Travellers from China being inspected at an arrival gate in Soekarno-Hatta International Airport. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Indonesians Stuck in Hubei May Be Evacuated to Another Province Before They Can Come Home


JANUARY 30, 2020

Jakarta. The government is preparing at least two different scenarios to evacuate Indonesian citizens trapped in the Hubei province in China, the center of the coronavirus outbreak.

Anung Sugihantono, the director-general of disease prevention and control at the Health Ministry, said the first option is to evacuate the Indonesians to another province in China.

"The first scenario is to move them from Hubei to another province where authorities will ensure they are 'clear' and healthy," Anung said after a meeting at the Communication and Information Technology Ministry in Jakarta on Thursday. 

"After that, we can fly them back to Indonesia," he said. This scenario will ensure people who are heading home are in good health.

"Obviously we will still examine them again when they get here. We have thermal scanners ready [at airports], we'll give them health alert cards and we'll record their travel history in China," Anung said.

Another option considered by the government is flying the Indonesians back home directly. They will be moved to a quarantine area as soon as they land.

"If they were evacuated during the current quarantine period in China, they will go into quarantine here as well for a minimum of 14 days, the incubation period for the virus. But they might be kept there longer if the outbreak escalates dramatically during their return," Anung said.

Anung refused to disclose the location of the quarantine site the government is preparing in Indonesia.

The government is collecting medical records of the Indonesians in Hubei, having noted that some of the fatalities from the novel coronavirus had also been suffering from other illnesses before they died.

"The Health Minister has instructed we must have their complete medical records to minimize risks. We are also relying on the Chinese authorities to ensure our citizens are in a healthy condition before clearing them to leave the locked-down areas," Anung said.

Anung also confirmed 16 people in Indonesia – nine Indonesians and seven foreigners – are or have been put in the "people under observation" category. 

Test results on five of the 16 came in negative, eight are still awaiting results and three have returned to their home countries.