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Jakarta Post

Air Force prepares carriers to airlift Indonesian citizens from virus-stricken Wuhan

  • Ivany Atina Arbi
    Ivany Atina Arbi

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, January 29, 2020   /   02:09 pm
Air Force prepares carriers to airlift Indonesian citizens from virus-stricken Wuhan An Air Force Hercules C-130 aircraft. (Courtesy of Indonesian Air Force/via Twitter @_TNIAU)

The Indonesian Air Force has kept three aircraft and health personnel on standby to evacuate Indonesian nationals from the locked-down city of Wuhan in China, the ground zero of the coronavirus outbreak, and ready to fly at any time, awaiting instruction from the central government.

Air Force spokesman First Marshal Fajar Adriyanto said the aircraft, comprising two Boeing 737 aircraft and an Indonesian military C-130 Hercules aircraft, had the capacity to transport over 200 people. 

"We are now waiting for confirmation from the Foreign Ministry [...] to decide whether or not we can go. But the Air Force is ready 24/7 to fly," Fajar said on Wednesday.

The Chinese government has imposed lockdowns on at least 13 cities in Hubei province, including Wuhan -- where the novel coronavirus was first identified on Dec. 31, 2019 -- in an attempt to contain the spread of the fast-spreading pneumonia-like ailment.

According to the Foreign Ministry, some 243 Indonesians currently live in the quarantined zone, around 100 of them residing in Wuhan.

Fajar noted that operations to evacuate the Indonesian citizens from the virus-affected areas could not be launched just yet, especially as travel into and out of Wuhan was still prohibited.

"We will proceed with the plan as soon as the Chinese government gives the green light," Fajar said.

The government had prepared Sulianto Saroso Hospital in North Jakarta to be used as a quarantine facility to observe the inbound citizens once they arrived in Indonesia from China, he said.

The United States and Japan are reported to be the first two countries to fly their respective citizens out of the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak. About 204 Americans left Wuhan on Wednesday, while at least 206 Japanese citizens arrived in Japan's capital of Tokyo on the same day.

France, moreover, has confirmed that its citizens will be evacuated from Wuhan by midweek. Some other countries such as Russia, Spain and Thailand are asking China to allow their nationals to leave.

As of Wednesday, the new coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, has killed 132 people in China and infected over 6,000 worldwide, AFP reported.

Indonesia has no confirmed cases as of Tuesday, Jan. 28.