Coronavirus: Indonesia refuses entry to 118 foreigners to prevent virus spread

An Indonesian health official takes temperature readings of arriving passengers amid concerns of the coronavirus outbreak at the Jakarta international Airport on Feb 23, 2020.
An Indonesian health official takes temperature readings of arriving passengers amid concerns of the coronavirus outbreak at the Jakarta international Airport on Feb 23, 2020.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - Indonesia has refused entry to 118 foreigners, including two from Singapore, in a bid to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

The measure was applied from Feb 5 to 23 at all immigration gates across the country, said Mr Arvin Gumilang, the spokesperson for Indonesia's immigration office, in a statement on Sunday (Feb 23).

"Among the reasons for the refusal were that the foreigners had stayed or transited in mainland China for 14 days," Mr Arvin said.

Earlier on Feb 8, Indonesia's Foreign Ministry had raised its travel alert level for Singapore to yellow, which meant that Indonesians were to take extra precautions when they visit the Republic.

The warning was issued a day after Singapore raised its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) alert level to orange.

The Covid-19 disease, which first emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan in Hubei province late last year, has so far infected over 78,000 people worldwide and killed more than 2,400 people.

Indonesia has yet to record a single confirmed case of the coronavirus, unlike its South-east Asian neighbours Singapore and Malaysia.

However, an Indonesian maid in Singapore tested positive for the virus on Feb 4 and has recovered after getting treatment in the country.

Meanwhile seven of 78 Indonesian nationals working as crew members of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, anchored off Japanese city of Yokohama, were infected by the virus as of Sunday, Dr Anung Sugihantono, Indonesia's Health Ministry director-general for disease control and prevention, told The Straits Times.

The ship has reported nearly 700 cases of infection, and at least two deaths from the outbreak since it quarantined its crew and passengers on Feb 5.

The Japanese authorities have since Friday allowed those on board who test negative for the virus to disembark.

 
 
 

Indonesian authorities are preparing to bring home the remaining crew who have tested negative, either by transporting them on a vessel that also serves as a mobile hospital with over 100 rooms, or evacuating them by air.

The secretary of the directorate general for disease control and prevention, Mr Achmad Yurianto, told reporters on Friday that the crew members will undergo a 28-day observation period as the cruise ship has become a new epicentre of the outbreak.

"We plan to carry out a physical re-examination and check for virus infection (upon arrival). … We'll treat them differently as we consider them patients under observation," he said.

In a separate development, the Tokyo metropolitan government announced on Saturday that a Japanese national who had gone for holiday with his family to Indonesia from Feb 15 to 19 has tested positive for the coronavirus.

However, Indonesian authorities said they could not comment on the case as they have yet to receive further information on the man from the Japanese authorities.