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Jakarta Post

Fijian citizen dies on chartered Garuda Indonesia flight, stoking COVID-19 fears

  • Fadli and Rizki Fachriansyah

    The Jakarta Post

Batam and Jakarta   /   Fri, July 3, 2020   /   09:35 am
Fijian citizen dies on chartered Garuda Indonesia flight, stoking COVID-19 fears A Garuda Indonesia plane. (Courtesy of/Garuda Indonesia)

A Fijian citizen died on board chartered international flight GA 8820 operated by flag carrier Garuda Indonesia on Tuesday, raising concerns over the safety of other passengers and crew members due to the current COVID-19 crisis.

The passenger passed away after experiencing breathing difficulties midway through the New Delhi-Batam-Merauke-Fiji flight, which departed at 9:45 p.m. local time on Tuesday with 112 Fijians due for repatriation from India, Garuda Indonesia president director Irfan Setiaputra said.

Crew members had assisted the distressed passenger by providing them with an oxygen mask, he said.

“Prior to the flight, the passenger in question had [provided a swab sample] for a polymerase chain reaction [PCR] test, the result of which came back negative for COVID-19,” Irfan said.

He went on to say that the body of the Fijian national was recovered during a stopover at Hang Nadim Airport in Batam, Riau Islands, in accordance with the existing COVID-19 protocol.

Hang Nadim Airport director Suwarso told The Jakarta Post that 13 flight crew members were subsequently removed from the plane and put into quarantine at a COVID-19 hospital on Galang Island to minimize the risk of coronavirus infection among the passengers.

The flight then resumed its course from Batam at 2:54 a.m. with a new crew.

Batam Mayor Muhammad Rudi said on Wednesday that every crew member from the flight – including the pilot and co-pilot – had tested negative for COVID-19.

“They will still be quarantined [on Galang Island] for 14 days in compliance with the standard procedure,” Rudi said.