Passengers get their temperatures checked upon arrival at Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in early March. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

More Indonesians Abroad Contract Covid-19 as Countries Extend Travel Bans

BY :NUR YASMIN

APRIL 10, 2020

Jakarta. The Foreign Affairs Ministry announced on Thursday a total of 312 Indonesians abroad have been infected with Covid-19 as the global toll from the disease continues to rise. 

The cases are spread in 25 countries, including the United States (14 cases, one recovery, two deaths), India (27 cases, ten recoveries), Malaysia (44 cases, five recoveries, two deaths) and Singapore (41 cases, nine recoveries, two deaths).

There have also been two deaths in the Netherlands and one in the United Kingdom. Forty-two have recovered from the infection, 13 percent of the total number of cases.

The cases in India happened among 667 Indonesian Muslim pilgrims visiting the South Asian country.

"There are 984 Indonesian pilgrims in nine countries, including India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal. It's difficult to track them because not everyone reported themselves to our embassies," Judha Nugraha, the director-general for citizen protection at the ministry, said in Jakarta on Thursday.

There are 161 pilgrims in Bangladesh, 77 in Pakistan, 30 in the Philippines and 13 in Nepal waiting for the result of their Covid-19 tests. Most of them are in good condition. 

The Indian government has suspended all tourist visas until April 15, resulting in more than 300 Indonesian pilgrims being blacklisted in the country. The Indonesian Embassy in India is giving them legal advice.

It's unclear when or how these Indonesians stuck abroad could return home as countries are extending their lockdowns and limiting people's mobility.

"To prevent the spread of Covid-19, almost all countries are now in lockdown. Greece has imposed a lockdown until April 27, the Philippines until April 30, Egypt until April 23, France until April 15, Romania has imposed a state of emergency until May and many other countries are also in total lockdown," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in Jakarta on Thursday.

Meanwhile, thousands of Indonesians working as crew members on cruise ships – which have become hotbeds for coronavirus infection – are stuck in limbo as the ships try to find ports still open to dock. The ministry is expecting a significant number of them to return home soon. 

"As of now, we have 17,769 Indonesian crew members on 122 cruises, which will potentially stop sailing because of the danger of infection on board. Many of them are expected to return to Indonesia," Retno said.

Until April 8, nearly 6,000 ship crew members have returned to Indonesia, including those from the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess and World Dream cruise ships.

"Our embassies in the United States, Australia, Europe and Malaysia will ensure these crew members go through a complete medical check before they return," the minister said.

The ministry is in close communication with the Bali provincial government to prepare for the crew members' return since most of them come from the tourist island. 

A World Health Organization report released on April 8 revealed 1,353,361 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in 211 countries and territories with almost 80,000 deaths.

In Indonesia, the tally has reached 3,000 cases with 280 deaths and 252 recoveries.

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