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Wuhan coronavirus: Batik Air to evacuate Indonesians in Hubei

Wuhan coronavirus: Batik Air to evacuate Indonesians in Hubei

An Indonesian health official checks body temperature of a passenger at the Juanda International airport in East Java on Jan 30, 2020. (Photo: AFP)

JAKARTA: A Batik Air flight departed from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International airport on Saturday (Feb 1) to Wuhan, China to evacuate 245 Indonesians who are trapped in Hubei province, the Indonesian government said.

There are 245 Indonesians in Hubei, mostly in Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, and once they have returned they will be quarantined in the Natuna Islands. 

The Indonesians are all in good condition, foreign minister Retno Marsudi said.

"I've been communicating with them since last night and I've received reports that they are healthy and happy to return home," Mdm Marsudi said.

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Health minister Terawan Agus Putranto said that the Indonesians have been screened according to WHO protocols. 

"We have already screened and cleared them. The ones we are going to carry back home are healthy Indonesians citizens," Mr Putranto said. 

A total of 250 Indonesians, including evacuation personnel, are expected to arrive in Indonesia on Sunday and they will then be quarantined in Natuna, military chief Hadi Tjahjanto said.

"The military supports the return (of the citizens) from Wuhan to Indonesia by providing facilities and infrastructure in accordance to health protocols.

"We have a place of isolation far from the population, and the best and chosen place is Natuna," military chief Hadi Tjahjanto said. 

He added that Natuna was chosen because it is a military base and is equipped with a hospital run by the military.

"So there are doctors from the army, navy, and air force. It also has a runway which is near to the isolation (quarantine) place," he added. 

The Batik Air flight is also carrying masks and surgical units to be handed to the government of China, Mdm Marsudi said. 

The move to evacuate the Indonesians comes after Mdm Marsudi said on Friday that China had cleared planes to fly to the virus-hit Chinese province of Hubei to evacuate Indonesian citizens from the area.

READ: Commentary: Lucky to have flown out of Wuhan, but many feel mixture of concern and uncertainty

READ: Chinese vessels leaving Natuna after days of stand-off with Indonesia

More than 11,000 cases of the Wuhan coronavirus have been confirmed since it emerged late December in China.

The virus has reached to more than 20 countries with more than 100 cases outside of China, but Indonesia has yet to report its first case.

Indonesia has tested several individuals suspected of having contracted the coronavirus but as of Saturday all have been declared negative.

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Source: CNA/ks(rw)


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