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Jakarta Post

Govt looks for free flights to transport quarantined citizens from Natuna to home towns

  • Fadli

    The Jakarta Post

Batam, Riau Islands   /   Tue, February 11, 2020   /   05:32 pm
Govt looks for free flights to transport quarantined citizens from Natuna to home towns A number of the 238 Indonesian citizens who were evacuated from Wuhan, Hubei, China exercise with Indonesian soldiers at the Air Force Air Base Hangar Raden Sadjad, Ranai, Natuna, Riau Islands, on Feb. 6. According to the Health Ministry, the citizens who were observed for the coronavirus were in good health and none of them showed symptoms of infection such as fever, cough, or runny noses. (Antara/M Risyal Hidayat)

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said on Tuesday his office was looking for free flights to transport patients quarantined in Natuna against the Wuhan coronavirus to their respective home towns.

“Garuda has said they are ready if we need them to send the citizens to home towns in the regions, but I’m sure other airlines would want to help as well,” he said.

The government is to pick the airlines next week, he said. “We will offer the opportunity to all airlines,” Budi said, adding that the airlines needed to provide the service for free.

As many 238 Hubei evacuees are preparing to return to their home towns after spending 10 days in quarantine at Raden Sadjad Air Force Base in Natuna, Riau Islands.

Commander Rear Adm. Yudo Margono, who leads the advanced task force monitoring the evacuees, said they are in stable condition.

“Thank God they are healthy and happy. Regarding the plan to return them to their homes, we have yet to receive an instruction from the upper level, but we are prepared whenever we need to send them home,” Yudo told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

During the observation period, the government formed an advanced task force consisting of the Indonesian Military and the National Police, as well as other relevant ministries and institutions. Rear Adm. Yudo was chosen to lead the operation until the evacuees are returned to their respective homes.

Responding to the government’s plan to evacuate all Indonesians from China and put them in Natuna for observation, Yudo said that he had yet to be officially informed of it.

“We only hear about it from the media,” Yudo said.

However, Yudo added that if another quarantine was to be conducted in Natuna following the World Health Organization’s recommendation, he had already prepared the location.

“We are ready,” Yudo said. (dpk)