The Jakarta Post
The government is set to put 74 Indonesian crew members from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan into a 28-day quarantine, with stricter screening measures in place, once they set foot in Indonesia, the Health Ministry has said.
"We have set a policy for those returning from the cruise ship in Japan to be [quarantined] for two times the incubation period [of the coronavirus], or 28 days of observation," the ministry's disease control and prevention directorate general secretary, Achmad Yurianto, said on Friday.
The decision was made after 634 of the 3,711 people onboard the British-American-owned Diamond Princess tested positive for the virus — including four of the 78 Indonesian crew members — making the vessel anchored in Yokohama the biggest coronavirus cluster outside the epicenter in China.
Two elderly Japanese people aboard the ship who were infected died on Thursday, AFP reported.
The quarantine period set by the government is longer than what was required for the 200 Indonesian nationals airlifted from Wuhan and cities in Hubei province in China — the outbreak epicenter — who returned home last week after a 14-day quarantine in Natuna, Riau Islands.
Yurianto said there were fears those who had been given a clean bill of health and permitted to disembark from the cruise ship might be carrying the virus without showing any symptoms.
"Thus, once they return home, we will do a thorough examination. Not only a physical examination, but also tests for the virus," Yurianto said as quoted by kompas.com, "We will refer to them as PDPs [patient under observation] and do a total screening, which is important prior to putting them into quarantine."
He said that during the quarantine, health authorities would put the PDPs into different clusters. For instance, those who had had contact with their infected colleagues or those who had been ill while aboard the ship, though not from coronavirus, would be kept separate from those who had not.
An estimated 600 Diamond Princess passengers who tested negative for the virus have disembarked since the two-week quarantine period ended on Wednesday, the cruise ship operator said.
The remaining hundreds of passengers and the 74 Indonesian crew members are still awaiting clearance to disembark, which is expected to be issued Saturday, Yurianto said. They may only return to their respective countries if they test negative, otherwise they will be admitted to hospitals in Japan.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said on Friday that the government had prepared several options to evacuate the 74 Indonesian crew members from the cruise ship, including to take them home on a ship or via plane.
"We have also prepared the hospitals, but we have not made any decisions in relation to the location [for the quarantine]," he said, adding that Jakarta would soon make a decision on the evacuation plan. (hol)