Disquiet in Indonesia’s Natuna over use of island as quarantine site

JAKARTA (CNA) – Residents on Natuna island have expressed concern that the regency is not adequately equipped to accommodate Indonesian citizens who have been quarantined after being evacuated from Wuhan.

“It’s not that we don’t accept the people, we are just very afraid of the virus. Natuna island is very small. If it (the novel coronavirus) spreads, everything will be finished,” Ranai resident Kiki Firdaus told CNA on Monday.

He expressed disappointment that the central government did not inform residents beforehand that their island had been designated as a quarantine site.

“Suddenly they unloaded logistics in Natuna. Of course, we feel betrayed,” he said.

Firdaus and hundreds of others have demonstrated in front of the local Parliament, the naval base and at the airport since Saturday.

Protesters in Ranai, Natuna demand the government to quarantine Indonesian evacuees from Hubei, in a safer environment. PHOTO: CNA

There are more than 280 people, including flight crew and personnel who are now quarantined in Natuna after returning from China’s Hubei province.

They arrived in Natuna’s capital Ranai, a city of around 20,000 people, on Sunday and locals are against the government’s move to quarantine them for 14 days there.

Midwife Zakiah, who attended one of the protests, said that there are limited medical facilities in Natuna.

“I know the equipment is limited. Natuna only has a military hospital and the local hospital where I work,” she said.

Zakiah, who only wanted to be known by her first name, said the only protective equipment available for healthcare workers is surgical masks.

“We don’t have bodysuits … We are afraid that if people are contaminated and they have to come to our hospital, what should we do?”

The midwife also pointed out that Ranai city often suffers from electrical blackouts, making it a less than ideal place for quarantine and medical treatment.