The Jakarta Post
Batam Mayor Muhammad Rudi has expressed appreciation for the Chinese government’s decision to cancel flights to several cities in Indonesia, including Batam in Riau Islands, amid fears of a possible domestic coronavirus outbreak.
The decision, he said, showed that China had taken the outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, Hubei province, seriously.
“The recent cancellation of flights shows that China has taken it upon itself to stem the impact of the outbreak. The government has been very responsive in protecting its citizens based on good, long-term planning,” Rudi said on Monday on the sidelines of an official inspection at the Batam International Ferry Terminal.
“We are grateful for the Chinese government’s initiative. We no longer need to impose a ban on Chinese arrivals ourselves.”
He said the administration had previously received official information from the Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam that all flights from China to Batam had been canceled by the tour and travel agency that had been managing such flights.
“All there is left for us to do now is to take anticipatory measures to ensure that [Batam] remains free of the coronavirus. We pray that the situation will be swiftly resolved,” Rudi said.
He went on to say that the local administration had officially designated two hospitals as the go-to medical centers for suspected coronavirus patients.
Hang Nadim International Airport director Suwarso told The Jakarta Post that all flights from Batam to Shenzhen in Guangdong province and Xian in Shaanxi province had also been canceled or postponed indefinitely on Tuesday.
He said the two flight routes were regularly serviced by Batik Air, a subsidiary of low-cost carrier Lion Air. Each flight could accommodate up to 150 passengers, he added.
“The tour and travel agency that handles the flights decided to call off all departures in light of the coronavirus outbreak in China,” Suwarso said.
Indonesian Tour and Travel Agency Association (ASITA) chairman in Batam Andika Lim said the Chinese government’s decision to cancel all flights to and from Batam would have a significant impact on the city’s tourism.
“We will learn the full extent of the impact next month,” Andika said. (rfa)