A health inspector at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta instructs a passenger arriving from Hong Kong to fill in a health report card. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Last-Minute Preparations Underway to Evacuate Indonesian Citizens From Coronavirus-Ravaged Wuhan

BY :TELLY NATHALIA

JANUARY 30, 2020

Jakarta. The Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Thursday Indonesia is finalizing preparations to evacuate its citizens from seven cities in China's Hubei province that are currently on lockdown from the coronavirus outbreak.

"The government of Indonesia is ready to bring home citizens from areas affected by the coronavirus outbreak in Hubei province," the ministry said in a statement.

The exact time for the evacuation has not been decided as preparations are still underway to load three Air Force planes with logistics before sending them to Wuhan to pick up Indonesians trapped in the center of the outbreak.

No detail has been provided on how the returning citizens will be treated once they arrive back in Indonesia.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo held a meeting with ministers and head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) at the Halim Perdamakusuma Air Force Base in East Jakarta on Thursday afternoon to discuss the evacuation plan.

"I've made the decision to evacuate Indonesian citizens in Huibei, China, immediately," the president said on Twitter.

The Air Force is preparing two Boeing 737 and one C130 Hercules aircraft to be used in the evacuation.

Meanwhile, the government has sent face masks and money to help hundreds of Indonesians stranded in Hubei.

A team from the Indonesian embassy in Beijing has already arrived in the province to prepare for the evacuation.

"The embassy has asked Indonesian citizens in Hubei to get their travel documents ready," the ministry said.

The evacuation is being organized by the Foreign Affairs Ministry in coordination with the Health Ministry, the Indonesian Military and the Immigration Office.

According to data from the Indonesian embassy, there are 243 Indonesians living in seven cities in Hubei, including Wuhan where the coronavirus was first detected.

The Wuhan coronavirus (2019-nCoV) has spread to 11 countries in Asia (China, Thailand, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, Malaysia, South Korea, Vietnam, Cambodia, Nepal, Sri Lanka), three countries in Europe (France, Germany, Finland), the United Arab Emirates, Australia, the United States and Canada.

A total of 170 people have died from the infection and 133 have recovered. 

Indonesia has reported no confirmed cases of the pneumonia-like infection until now. The Health Ministry has beefed up public health screening at international airports and seaports to catch people suspected of carrying the coronavirus. 

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