Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia has temporarily restricted its flight services to Timor Leste and imports from that country since Friday to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to the Indonesian Embassy.

The flight and import restriction will be imposed for a period of time for which an announcement will be made later, Officer of the Protocol and Consular Affairs at the Indonesian Embassy in Dili Eka Mauboy revealed in a short message that ANTARA received here on Saturday.

The restriction was imposed a day before Deputy Health Minister of Timor Leste Ella Amaral confirmed that one of the country's citizens had tested positive for COVID-19, Mauboy stated.

Ongoing concerns over the global pandemic of COVID-19 had affected trade between Indonesia and Timor Leste as was apparent from the Indonesian government's imposition of import restriction on products from the neighboring country, Mauboy remarked.

However, Indonesia's exported products, including basic necessities, medical equipment, and fuels, were still permitted to be shipped to Timor Leste, Mauboy revealed, adding that flight services had been suspended temporarily on the Kupang-Dili-Kupang route.

Mauboy pointed to restrictions also being put in place for the Citilink and Sriwijaya Air's Denpasar-Dili-Denpasar flights.

The Government of Timor Leste has also imposed a travel restriction on foreign nationals from 147 countries, including Indonesia, for four weeks, effective from March 19, 2020.

According to the Indonesian Embassy in Dili, some 9,600 Indonesian citizens reside in the country that shares its land border with the Indonesian province of East Nusa Tenggara.

COVID-19, which initially struck the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of December, 2019, has claimed the lives of at least 9,840 people and infected no less than 234,073 individuals in 176 countries and territories worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

In Indonesia, as of Saturday, the virus had infected 450 people and claimed 38 lives, while 20 patients recovered and were discharged from hospitals. The death rate in Indonesia is the highest among countries in Southeast Asia.

Taking into account the rising death toll and the spread of the virus, the WHO has declared the coronavirus outbreak a global pandemic.

The Indonesian government has put in place precautionary measures since the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak.

In addition to installing thermal scanners at the country's airports and seaports as well as making preparations at hospitals across the archipelago, the Indonesian government has repatriated several hundred citizens. Related news: COVID-19 cases increase by 81, death toll reaches 38

Related news: 60 Indonesians reportedly on board coronavirus-hit cruise ship


Translator: Genta TM, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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