IO, Riau – 243 Indonesian citizens have been repatriated from Wuhan, China, after the Chinese Government allowed foreign citizens who were quarantined in the city to return to their respective countries. These citizens were transported using three commercial airplanes from China on Sunday morning (02/02/2020): one Hercules A-1315 and two Boeing aircraft (AL-7304 and A 7306). They arrived at the Raden Sadjad Ranai Military Airport, Natuna, Riau Islands, on the same day, after a brief stopover in Hang Nadim Airport, Batam, for health checks and quarantine preparation. They will be quarantined for two weeks, in order to ensure that they are free from the Coronavirus before they are allowed to return to their homes. They were strictly watched when they debarked: nobody was allowed to pass by or enter Raden Sadjad Ranai during the whole procedure.
Unfortunately, the residents of Natuna initially refused to allow their fellow citizens who recently stayed in Wuhan to be quarantined in their island. They requested that these citizens be quarantined on a warship instead, as they are afraid that the Coronavirus might spread throughout their area. However, the Government insisted. President Joko Widodo personally requested that the people of Natuna be generous towards their fellow citizens. “I believe that we as Indonesians must be generous and forbearing towards our fellow citizens. True, there might be a suspicion of disease. However, they did not ask for it, and they are our brothers and sisters,” he said during his work visit in the District of Sukajaya, Regency of Bogor, West Java, on Monday (03/02/2020).
Jokowi stated that the 238 citizens who returned from Wuhan appear healthy. However, according to procedure, they must be re-checked and observed upon entering our territory in order to ensure that they are healthy and free from any illness. “I would like to thank the people of Natuna for finally giving a green light for this emergency action, because it involves our own brothers and sisters. The 243 citizens are healthy, but there are other stages of health protocol before we can return them to their families,” he said.
Meanwhile, Minister of Health Dr. Terawan Agus Putranto stated that Natuna is the best place to quarantine Indonesian citizens, because it has a military complex. “The most suitable site is a military complex whose airport is also part of a military traffic complex, i.e. Natuna,” he said to the press in the Parliamentary Complex on Monday (03/01/2020). “Therefore, everything is done after sufficient security. Furthermore, there are also children and pregnant women among the citizens returning from Wuhan. It is simply impossible to perform quarantine and observation aboard a warship. As for the initial refusal of local citizens, we from the Government will continue to explain that what we are doing is according to proper procedures.”
On the other hand, according to the Speaker of MPR Bambang Soesatyo (“Bamsoet”), “I remind everyone that the people who are coming to Natuna are our own brothers and sisters, fellow citizens of Indonesia. It is inappropriate for us to refuse to help our own brothers and sisters,” he said in the Vice President’s Palace in Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara, Central Jakarta, on Tuesday (04/02/2020).
Bamsoet stated that the observed and quarantined citizens are Indonesians who legitimately studied and worked in China, and they deserved to be accepted. “They are not doing inappropriate things there. So once again, I ask the people of Natuna to accept them with open arms, because they are our brothers and sisters after all. As fellow citizens, we should all work properly in resolving the issue with due preventive actions,” he said. “Furthermore, they are not ill, but they are healthy people that only require observation to prevent the spread of disease. The ones who already caught the virus remain in China,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Regent of Natuna Abdul Hamid Rizal stated that his citizens have now understood what the Government is trying to achieve by evacuating 243 citizens from Wuhan to Natuna, and have generally calmed down. Their concern about receiving fellow citizens from Wuhan was caused by insufficient socialization of facts concerning the Coronavirus plague to them. After proper communication from the Government, they finally understood the situation.
Hamid stated that concerns about the spread of infection has moved citizens to stop their children from going to school and keep them safe at home. However, the students are active again. “This is because there are many Nursery Schools and Kindergartens around the area, which means that many children may be affected. Therefore, it is only natural for us to put them on holiday briefly. As the isolation is now implemented, we are allowing the children to return to school,” he said at the Office of the Coordinating Minister of Political, Legal, and Security Affairs in Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat, Central Jakarta, on Tuesday (04/02/2020). (Dsy)