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Jakarta Post

Returning migrant workers wait for COVID-19 tests for hours outside emergency hospital

  • Alya Nurbaiti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, May 16, 2020   /   04:10 pm
Returning migrant workers wait for COVID-19 tests for hours outside emergency hospital Indonesian crew members of cruise ship MV Artania arrive at Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta on April 24. (Antara/Muhammad Adimaja)

Hundreds of Indonesian migrant workers recently returning to the country gathered in a crowd outside the Kemayoran Athletes Village makeshift hospital for COVID-19 on Thursday, forced to spend hours waiting for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing due to technical difficulties.

One of the migrant workers was 33-year-old Tommy Gunawan, who had just flown from Barbados with 222 other Indonesian crewmen of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship.

They landed at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten at 7 a.m. and immediately underwent COVID-19 rapid testing. The test results came back negative at 11 a.m.

Two hours later, military personnel transported the migrant workers to the Kemayoran Athletes Village makeshift hospital, so they could undergo PCR testing to make sure they had not contracted the coronavirus.

However, they were not allowed to enter the building immediately. They were forced to wait by themselves in the yard of the Athletes Village for hours.

“Nobody gave us any explanation. We waited until around 9 p.m., when my group was finally informed that we would be quarantined and have swab samples taken at the Grand Mercure Hotel in Harmoni,” Tommy told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

Read also: Migrant workers in Malaysia to undergo coronavirus tests as curbs eased

Joint Defense Area Command I commander Vice Adm. Yudo Margono, who oversees the makeshift hospital, said there was a power problem in Tower 9 of the Athletes Village, where authorities had initially planned to quarantine the migrant workers.

Yudo went on to say the facility was not properly prepared as the decision to use the tower was just made on Thursday morning.

“We have solved the problem,” he told the Post on Friday.

“We have also housed another 603 Indonesian crewmen of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship coming from Hong Kong, Taiwan and Malaysia in the Athletes Village. They are waiting for medical personnel to take their swab samples.”

As of Friday, there were 2,999 people receiving treatment both as confirmed and suspected patients at the COVID-19 emergency hospital in the Kemayoran Athletes Village – 1,219 of whom have recovered from the disease.


If you want to help in the fight against COVID-19, we have compiled an up-to-date list of community initiatives designed to aid medical workers and low-income people in this article. Link: [UPDATED] Anti-COVID-19 initiatives: Helping Indonesia fight the outbreak