Indonesia to suspend China flights, bar visitors who have been there

JAKARTA • Indonesia will temporarily stop flights to and from China starting from Wednesday, and bar visitors who have been in China in the last 14 days from entering or transiting in the country, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said yesterday.

The government will stop a policy to give free visas to Chinese nationals and also stop issuing visas on arrival for those who live in China, she said, asking Indonesians not to travel to China amid the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic.

Indonesia is among a growing list of countries that have taken steps to limit the spread of the virus which started in Wuhan city in central Hubei province.

Last Thursday, the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, but said global trade and travel restrictions are not needed.

However, some countries are responding to fears of the virus spreading by ramping up border controls.

Singapore and the United States announced measures last Friday to ban foreign nationals who have recently been to China from entering their territories, and Australia followed suit last Saturday.

Russia introduced visa restrictions and will start evacuating Russian citizens today and tomorrow, Interfax and Tass news agencies reported.

The Philippines expanded its travel ban to include all foreigners coming from China, widening an earlier restriction that covered only those from Hubei province.

New Zealand and Vietnam also barred foreigners who have been in China, with Vietnam saying it would halt all flights to and from China.

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However, Vietnam Airlines and Vietjet Air resumed flights to Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau from yesterday after Hanoi eased restrictions over virus concerns.

Taiwan has asked its diplomats to talk to governments where Taiwanese airlines fly to ensure flights are not cut off due the island's inclusion by the WHO as part of China.

Meanwhile, countries continued to evacuate their citizens from China.

More than 100 Germans and their family members landed in Frankfurt on Saturday after being evacuated from Wuhan.

Around 250 Indonesians were also evacuated from Hubei.

China will start making arrangements to fly back to Taiwan the first 200 Taiwanese who have been stranded in Hubei, Chinese state media reported yesterday. China said about 500 Taiwanese are in the province.

Japan plans to send another chartered plane in the middle of this week or later to bring back Japanese nationals who are still in Hubei, its Foreign Ministry said yesterday.

Japan has barred foreigners who have been in Hubei from entering the country, a move followed by South Korea where the entry ban will go into effect tomorrow, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Sye-kyun said.


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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 03, 2020, with the headline Indonesia to suspend China flights, bar visitors who have been there. Subscribe