238 Indonesians evacuated from Wuhan, seven remain in the city: govt

238 Indonesians evacuated from Wuhan, seven remain in the city: govt

Indonesian Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto was in Natuna District, Riau Islands Province, on Sunday (Feb 2, 2020) (ANTARA/Cherman)

The coronavirus information spread on social media and mainstream media has made many people feel anxious
Batam, Riau Islands (ANTARA) - Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto confirmed that the total number of Indonesians airlifted from Wuhan, China's epicenter of deadly novel coronavirus, reached 238 while seven others remained in the Chinese city.

"According to the Health Ministry's data, 238 evacuees have arrived," Putranto told journalists in Natuna District, Riau Islands Province, on Sunday.

Four of the seven Indonesians refused to get evacuated because they felt more comfortable though they had been offered to join the emergency evacuation while three others failed in the Chinese authorities' health examinations prior to the departure, he said.

Regarding the Indonesian Government's decision to send the evacuees to Natuna Islands for quarantine, Ansar Ahmad, a member of parliament, suggested that the government take their 14-day incubation period on a naval ship.

"It is better if the evacuees get quarantined on an Indonesian naval ship which is equipped with sufficient logistics and health services," he said commenting on the rejection of several residents of Natuna District on the government's decision.

Ahmad, a member of the Golkar Party Faction at the House of Representatives, said the government should optimally socialize its policy on selecting Natuna Islands in advance because the local people felt fear of the impact of the deadly coronavirus.

He said he could understand the people's fear of being infected by the virus though the Health Ministry had convinced that all Indonesians airlifted from the Chinese city of Wuhan were in good health.

"The coronavirus information spread on social media and mainstream media has made many people feel anxious," he said.

At the same time, a massive socialization for the Natuna District Government as well as local community leaders and people was not available before the quarantine policy was taken, he added.

The new coronavirus has killed at least 304 people in China, and a 44-year-old resident of Wuhan who received a medical treatment in the Philippines, according to the New York Times.

Chinese authorities declared the first case of coronavirus after a person with pneumonia was hospitalized in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, according to an official statement of the World Health Organization (WHO).

Over the past weeks, people, with symptoms of pneumonia and reported travel history to Wuhan, had been identified at international airports.

Besides infecting China, several other countries, such as Thailand, Australia, Singapore, the United States, Japan, and Canada, have announced their confirmed coronavirus cases.

However, none of the confirmed cases were found in Indonesia. Apart from this reality, since the issuance of an official statement by the WHO on the coronavirus outbreak in China, the Indonesian government has remained on alert.

As part of its precautionary measures, thermal scanners have been installed at various airports around the archipelago for screening international passengers.

The thermal scanners are aimed at detecting any foreign tourists symptomatic with this novel coronavirus.

Several hospitals in Indonesia's big cities have also made necessary preparations to handle those with suspected coronavirus symptoms.

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