The Transportation Ministry has announced the temporary suspension of all flights to and from Wuhan operated by Indonesian airlines amid the outbreak of the pneumonia-like illness, caused by a new coronavirus that was first detected in December 2019 in the Chinese city.
Indonesia's Sriwijaya Air and Lion Air have canceled their daily flights to Wuhan following China's issuance of a notice to airmen (NOTAM).
The NOTAM says that Wuhan International Airport would be closed, excepting emergency flights, starting on Jan. 23 at 6 p.m. Western Indonesia Time (WIB) to Feb. 2 at 10:59 p.m. WIB.
All flights from Indonesia to Wuhan would be diverted to other cities in China, said a statement from the ministry.
"We are coordinating closely with all airlines in Indonesia to anticipate the possible spread of the [coronavirus] in Indonesia via [international flights]," air transportation director general Polana B. Pramesti said in the statement.
She added that the directorate general had issued a circular to all airlines on Jan. 20 that required the distribution of general advisory cards to quarantine staff at airport arrival gates, report any passengers suspected of infection to air traffic officers, distribute health advisory cards to all passengers arriving from affected countries and urge passengers that had traveled to the affected countries to report any suspected infection to airport officers.
"We urge all air travel stakeholders to remain alert and increase their preparedness in anticipating the [coronavirus] by air travel, because the health, safety and comfort of all passengers are our collective responsibility," Polana said.
Lion Air Group's Malaysian subsidiary, Malindo Air, issued a statement on Jan. 23 that it would temporarily suspend all flights connecting Kuala Lumpur International Airport to Wuhan International Airport until further notice. All passengers who had booked tickets on flights between Jan. 23 and Feb. 8 were advised to contact the airline to adjust their flights, the statement added.
Malaysian low-cost carrier AirAsia also issued a statement on Thursday that it would temporarily cancel all flights to Wuhan departing from Kota Kinabalu in Malaysia and Bangkok and Phuket in Thailand until Jan. 28, kompas.com reported.
China imposed a lockdown on Thursday that effectively bans 20 million people from leaving areas at the epicenter of the deadly virus outbreak by plane and train, in an unprecedented move aimed at containing the disease that had already spread to other countries, AFP reported.
At least 18 people have died from the virus, which bears similarities to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), since it emerged from a market in Wuhan in December. It has infected hundreds and spread to other countries, including Thailand, Japan and Singapore. (ars)