Jakarta. Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said on Monday 734 Indonesians have contracted Covid-19 iin foreign countries as of Sunday and 41 of them have died. Many of the cases have occurred in cruise ships.
“Of the total cases, 372 have recovered and 41 have died. Those cases have occurred in 33 countries and 20 cruise ships,” Retno said in a news conference in Jakarta.
“The magnitude of this issue is very unprecedented. The Indonesian government and its embassies continue improving our effort to protect our citizens abroad,” she said.
Among the efforts is returning citizens from other countries for examination at home. Returnees from Malaysia make up the highest number, with a total of 72,966 Indonesian citizens having been repatriated from the neighor as of Sunday.
Coming next are Indonesian cruise ship members.
“The total number of Indonesian cruise ship crew members already returned home is 14,244 as of Sunday,” Retno said.
Most of Indonesian migrant workers, including ship crew members, are compelled to return after losing jobs or being furloughed by their employers.
“We have an influx of citizens returning from foreign countries mainly because they have lost their jobs, or their employers refused to extend contract, or their stay permit expired,” Retno said.
The returning citizens arrived at their homeland through Soekarno-Hatta airport, Ngurah Rai Bali airport, Benoa port and Tanjung Priok port. Retno assured that all of them are obliged to follow health protocol upon arrival, including two-week quarantine either voluntarily or at government-mandated facilities.
“President Joko Widodo has told us to proceed with strict health protocol at all entry points. The Covid-19 task force will also prepare a self-quarantine guide book,” Retno said.
According to the law, Indonesia cannot reject its citizen who wishes to return.
“One of our foreign policy priorities is to protect our citizens. This has become more relevant during the pandemic, and the challenges are even bigger,” Retno said.
On Saturday, Indonesian Migrant Worker Protection Agency (BP2MI) chairman Benny Rhamdani said all returnees would undergo medical procedures, including temperature screening and rapid testing.
“If the results come back positive, the task force will send them to the isolation facility at the Athletes’ Village,” Benny said.
Benny said that the returning workers would have to report to their regional government and self quarantine for a fortnight.