Following Bali’s refusal, East Nusa Tenggara willing to help Timor Leste quarantine citizens repatriated from China

NTT Governor Viktor Laiskodat. Photo: NTT Provincial Government
NTT Governor Viktor Laiskodat. Photo: NTT Provincial Government

While the provincial government in Bali may have rejected Timor Leste’s request to help quarantine 17 of its citizens who have yet to be repatriated from China amid the coronavirus outbreak, it looks like East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) is ready to step up and facilitate the neighboring country in need. 

It’s worth noting, of course, that the final decision would still be the central government’s to make. Timor Leste’s Planning and Strategic Investment Minister, Xanana Gusmao, held a meeting with Indonesia’s Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD on Tuesday, but the latter has yet to issue any statement regarding the country’s decision to assist Timor Leste. 

However, amid all the fluster with the novel coronavirus — also known as 2019-nCoV — across the globe, NTT’s readiness to help a neighbor in need feels like a welcome amity, provided that they are actually well-equipped and able to go about it carefully enough. 

Yesterday, NTT government spokesman Marius Ardu Jelamu told Kompas that the province’s governor, Viktor Laiskodat, has said that NTT is ready to accommodate Timor Leste citizens from China. 

“This is purely for humanitarian reasons. A person’s dignity is much higher than everything else. We read reports from a number of outlets that Bali Governor rejected [to host] 17 of Timor Leste’s citizens, and that is why our governor says NTT is ready to accept [them],” Marius said. 

He explained that the Naimata Mental Hospital in Kupang is being prepared to potentially host Timor Leste citizens.   

Following the meeting with Mahfud earlier this week, Gusmao told reporters that his country lacked adequate infrastructure to handle possible cases of 2019-nCoV. 

“It needs to be understood that we don’t have any facilities, we don’t have anything. This is why we are asking for help [to quarantine] like other countries,” Gusmao said then, as quoted by CNN Indonesia. 

Indonesia quarantined 243 of its citizens who were evacuated from Wuhan, China and its surrounding cities on Sunday on the Natuna Besar Island, where they will reportedly be staying for at least 14 days to avoid contagion. 

Related – Indonesia bans flights from China, pulls visa waivers for Chinese nationals amid growing coronavirus fears

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