Indonesia readies plans for post-quarantine period: Health Ministry

The government is saying it has prepared several scenarios for after the 14-day quarantine for the 243 people evacuated from Wuhan and other Chinese cities on Sunday to Raden Sadjad airbase in Natuna, Riau Islands, including a possible extension of the quarantine period and evacuation for those who require further medical treatment.

The Health Ministry’s disease control and prevention director general, Anung Sugihantono, said if no single evacuee exhibits respiratory disorders or other symptoms related to the coronavirus infection, they would be immediately released after the two-week observation period as the people who were rescued on Sunday had received clearance from Chinese authorities.

However, options are on the table if some people need further medical treatment following signs of coronavirus infection, he said.

“We could extend [the quarantine period] or relocate [the patient] to a more specific place to receive treatment,” Anung told reporters in Jakarta on Monday. “A hospital in Natuna was already prepared but we also anticipate if – hopefully, such a thing will not happen – [the evacuees] need to be relocated to Jakarta should they require such treatment.”

As of 8 a.m. on Monday, no returnees – including the flight crew who picked up the evacuees from China – had shown symptoms of coronavirus infection, Health Ministry spokesperson Widyawati said.

Health workers continue to periodically examine the conditions of the evacuees at least twice a day, while the government had also made arrangements to ensure the comfort of the evacuees during their two-week quarantine.

“According to the last information, our [evacuees] friends cannot communicate with their families because they still use a Chinese telecommunications operator [in their phones]. We are working to set up a wifi network today so that they could communicate with their families,” said Anung.

The government evacuated 243 people – 237 Indonesian citizens and a foreigner, plus five Foreign Ministry officials – from Wuhan, the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, and other cities on Sunday, using Batik Air Airbus A-330 airplane flying from China to Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam, Riau Islands, before transferring them on three separate Indonesian Military (TNI) flight to Natuna.

The number was less than the 245 people originally planned to be taken out of China, as four people were unwilling to leave and three people were declared sick at the time of departure and did not receive clearance from the Chinese government to leave the country.

The death toll from the virus in China climbed to 362 as of Monday, Johns Hopkins CSSE reported, exceeding the 349 fatalities in China following the 2002 and 2003 Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak.

As of Monday, no cases of infection have been observed in Indonesia, Anung said, with lab test results from 34 people – seven foreigners and 27 Indonesians – showing negative for the coronavirus.

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