Medan, N Sumatra (ANTARA) -
​​The airport train operator PT Railink has suspended its Medan Central Station-Kualanamu International Airport service from April 12 to May 31, 2020, to assist the government in preventing the spread of the deadly COVID-19 virus.

"Prior to the suspension, the management had reduced the frequency of trips since March 19," PT Railink spokesperson Diah Suryandari told ANTARA in Medan, the capital of North Sumatra, on Monday.

The management earlier planned to cease its airport train service from April 12 to April 30, but extended the suspension until May 30 due to the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, she said.

The suspension was aimed to support the government's efforts to break the chain of the deadly virus transmission, she said, adding that the train operator had taken preventive measures to contain the spread of the virus long before suspending the service.

The train operator regularly sprayed its railway cars and train stations with disinfectants, provided hand sanitizer facilities, checked body temperatures of passengers before being allowed to board, and provided face masks to passengers, she said.

Following the imposition of work-from-home and stay-at-home policies, and calls for not traveling during "mudik" to celebrate the Idul Fitri this year, the number of PT Railink's passengers had significantly declined, she added.

"Mudik" refers to the annual exodus of citizens to their hometowns to celebrate Idul Fitri with their extended families and colleagues.

In addition to the significant decline of passengers, ANTARA noted that Medan, the largest city on the Indonesian island of Sumatra, had also been classified as a "red zone" area during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Two other areas designated as red zones in North Sumatra were Deli Serdang District and Tanjung Balai City.

As earlier announced by North Sumatra Provincial Administration Secretary Sabrina, the provincial administration categorized Medan, Deli Serdang, and Tanjung Balai as red zones, due to their being North Sumatra's main ports of entry and exit, their very large populations, and their high mobility of people.

COVID-19, which initially struck the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019, has spread to some provinces in Indonesia.

As of April 13, there were 90 confirmed cases in North Sumatra, while the death toll from the virus reached nine. Eight patients have been treated and discharged from hospitals.
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Translator: Evalisa S, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Suharto
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