US, Australia orders citizens to leave Indonesia amid coronavirus outbreak

Microscopic image of the virus that causes COVID-19 <i> Photo: NIAID-RML</i>
Microscopic image of the virus that causes COVID-19 Photo: NIAID-RML

American and Australian citizens in Indonesia are ordered to leave the country amid the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia, with officials citing evidence of the viral disease in Indonesia and its current medical capacity, as well as reduced availability of flights amid increased travel restrictions around the globe.

The US Department of State yesterday issued an alert, specifically addressing family members of embassy employees under the age of 21, to return to the US immediately. This order applies to employees of the US Embassy in Jakarta, the US Mission to ASEAN, as well as the Consulate General in Surabaya and Medan.

American authorities recently increased their Global Health Advisory to the fourth level, advising its citizens to refrain from traveling. 

“US citizens currently in Indonesia should arrange for immediate return to the United States, unless they are prepared to remain abroad for an extended period,” the alert reads. 

For the time being, the US Embassy in Jakarta and the Consulate General in Surabaya and Medan are open for mission-critical functions only, although services for US citizens remain available. 

Australia has also put in place a travel ban for all Australians, which began on Wednesday, and ordered its citizens abroad to fly home “as soon as possible,” citing reduced availability of commercial flights. Australian citizens are encouraged to subscribe to Smartraveller for travel advisories.

The official notices from the two countries, particularly that of the US, have been widely shared on chat groups in Indonesia, raising concerns that they might signify that the worst of COVID-19 is yet to come in the country.

Indonesia’s Ministry of Health has set up an information hotline at +62 21 521 0411 or +62 82 1212 3119, while information regarding the novel coronavirus in Indonesia can be found on the ministry’s official website as well as the dedicated website for COVID-19 (in Indonesian).

As of March 26, Indonesia has 893 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 35 recoveries and 78 deaths.


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