The Jakarta Post
Three hospitals in Riau Islands are making preparations for the arrival of Indonesians from Wuhan, China, who will be isolated for a number of days while they undergo medical checkups and monitoring before they will be allowed to return home.
Riau Islands Health Agency head Tjeptjep Yudiana confirmed early Saturday that he had received a letter from the Health Ministry Health Services Directorate General directing his agency to make the preparations.
The three hospitals mentioned in the letter are Badan Pengusahaan and Embung Fatimah Regional hospitals in Batam and Natuna Regional Hospital in Natuna.
“We are making preparations now. I will visit the hospitals to welcome them [Indonesians from Wuhan]. The final say will be in the hands of the governor and the Batam mayor,” Tjetjep told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
He added that Health Minister Terawan had been in Natuna since Friday as part of the preparations to make the province a transit point for Indonesians returning from Wuhan.
“Basically, we need an isolation zine for them until they are declared free from the coronavirus. We don’t want them to be in society before we know they are healthy,” Tjetjep added.
In addition, Tjetjep said Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi and Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi were scheduled to visit Batam on Saturday, when they will greet the returnees.
As of Friday, the virus had killed 213 people and infected nearly 10,000 in mainland China.
Meanwhile, Batam Indonesia Free Trade Zone Authority (BP Batam) spokesperson Dendi Gustinandar said there had been no discussions about whether the returnees would be isolated at the haj dormitory in Batam.
“I have not heard about the plan. There has been no discussion about it within related offices” Dendi added.
He said BP Batam had not issued any instructions to use the haj dormitory as an isolation spot.
He statement counters reports the government’s plans to use the haj dormitory as an isolation zone, which has triggered protests and criticism from local people.
Riau Islands Legislative Council (DPRD) member Yudi Kurnai said it was wrong for the government to designate Batam as an isolation zone for Indonesians returning from Wuhan given that Batam was a popular tourism destination.
“The government should pick another island. It is not the right decision to place them in Batam,” Yudi said.
Meanwhile, dozens of people in Natuna staged a rally on Saturday to protest the government’s plan. “Local people are worried about the plan to isolate them in Natuna. We are worried because the coronavirus spreads very quickly,” said a protester.