Australian Ambassador to Indonesia Gary Quinlan has been recalled from his post as a precautionary measure, Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has announced, as the COVID-19 health crisis deepens in Indonesia
In view of the latest developments surrounding the disease, DFAT has asked Quinlan to relocate from Jakarta.
“Based on medical advice, Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia Gary Quinlan AO is being temporarily relocated to Australia. Ambassador Quinlan will continue to oversee embassy operations from Australia,” the department said in a statement on Thursday.
The ambassador is expected to depart for Australia soon.
“This is purely a precautionary measure, related to accepted COVID-19 vulnerabilities,” it added.
Despite the decision, the department said Australia's embassy and consulates in Indonesia are "resourced to continue to serve Australia’s interests, including by providing consular support to Australians at this challenging time”.
Australia's travel advisory for Indonesia over the last month has offered a blunt assessment of the local healthcare system, stating that the following few months would be "a hugely challenging period for local authorities and service providers".
As of Friday, Indonesia's official COVID-19 tally is at 3,512 confirmed cases and 306 fatalities.
Some foreign missions have already asked its citizens to leave Indonesia and return home, including the United States Embassy.
Last week, Deputy Foreign Minister Mahendra Siregar led a video conference with at least 120 foreign missions and international organization representatives in Jakarta.
According to a press release from the ministry, Mahendra reassured the envoys that consular services for foreign missions and international organizations in Jakarta would be allowed to continue despite the outbreak, whether through face-to-face meetings by appointment, by phone or virtually.