The Jakarta Post
The Indonesian Navy intercepted 20 undocumented Indonesian migrant workers returning from Malaysia trying to sneak past border authorities through illegal routes in the early hours of the morning on Sunday.
The migrant workers, who consisted of seven women and 13 men, boarded a fishing vessel and were caught in Asahan regency, North Sumatra. Officers also found a toddler in the vessel.
The commander of Tanjung Balai Asahan Naval Base (Lanal), Com. Dafris Datuk Syahrudin, said the undocumented migrant workers were currently being tested for COVID-19.
"We have secured a group of undocumented Indonesian migrant workers from Malaysia. They are now being tested for COVID-19," Dafris told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
He said the migrant workers appeared healthy and did not show any symptoms of COVID-19.
"We'll hand them to the Tanjung Bali COVID-19 task force for further treatment," he said.
Belawan I Naval Base commander Adm. Abdul Rasyid said he had been deploying more routine border and intelligence patrols amid the influx of Indonesian migrant workers returning from Malaysia.
According to government data as of April 21, more than 64,000 Indonesian migrant workers – an estimated 46,000 of whom traveled by sea – had returned from Malaysia amid the country’s ongoing COVID-19 lockdown.
On April 20, authorities also caught a fishing vessel carrying 22 undocumented Indonesian migrant workers from Malaysia in Tanjung Tumpul, Asahan regency.
"We don't want to take any chances in this difficult time, as the country is on alert for the COVID-19 pandemic and its transmission – especially from overseas. The Indonesian Navy will increase border patrols, especially in suspected illegal routes," Abdul told the Post on Sunday.
"In recent weeks, we've caught many undocumented Indonesian migrant workers returning from Malaysia through illegal routes. We have tried to catch them so that they don't enter the country without going through medical check-ups. It's important to curb the spread of COVID-19 from overseas," he said. (nal)