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

Indonesian nationals evacuated from China being sprayed with disinfectant as they leave the aircraft on Feb. 2, 2020. Photo: Indonesia Foreign Ministry
Indonesian nationals evacuated from China being sprayed with disinfectant as they leave the aircraft on Feb. 2, 2020. Photo: Indonesia Foreign Ministry

The Indonesian government has moved to restrict travelers coming from and going to mainland China in response to the World Health Organization’s recent declaration that the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak poses a global health emergency.

Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi yesterday announced that the government is temporarily banning flights from mainland China, as well as temporarily withdrawing visa-free entry for Chinese nationals into Indonesia.

“Direct flights from and to mainland China will be postponed indefinitely starting at midnight on Wednesday,” Retno said during a press conference in Jakarta yesterday.

“All travelers coming from China or those who have been there for at least 14 days are, for the time being, prohibited from entering or making a transit in Indonesia.”

Under the order of President Joko Widodo, the government yesterday also repatriated 243 Indonesian nationals from China’s Hubei province — where the deadly coronavirus was first detected. All of them landed on Batam island and subsequently transferred to the Natuna Besar Island military base. 

A video of the evacuees being sprayed with disinfectant as they exited their aircraft has gone viral. 

Retno said that all 243, as well as 42 officials who went to China to evacuate them, are in good health.

The deadly Chinese coronavirus has now spread to at least 20 countries outside of China, where it originated and has killed 361 as of Monday morning along with one fatality in the Philippines, according to national and provincial Chinese health committees. More than 17,000 have been infected and 478 people deemed recovered from the disease. 

Related — Duterte bans all flights from China as Wuhan coronavirus patient dies in PH


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