Wuhan coronavirus: Batik Air to evacuate Indonesians in Hubei

JAKARTA (CNA) – A Batik Air flight departed from Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International airport on Saturday 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,” Marsudi said.

Health minister Terawan Agus Putranto said that the Indonesians have been screened according to World Health Organization (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.

Indonesian students who were studying in China exit the plane upon their arrival on a special flight. PHOTO: AFP

“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, Marsudi said.

The move to evacuate the Indonesians comes after 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.