Jakarta – The Foreign Ministry is distributing Rp 133.2 million (US$9,763) for hundreds of Indonesian citizens trapped in the locked-down cities of Hubei province in China, where the novel coronavirus has rapidly spread, to help them to buy food and logistics supplies in the quarantined zone.
Judha Nugraha, the Foreign Ministry's director for overseas citizen protection, said on Wednesday that the money would be distributed to the Indonesians there through the Indonesian Student Association in China (PPIT).
As for now, the cash assistance is being distributed to several areas such as Wuhan – the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak – and other cities in Hubei, including Xianing, Huangshi, Jingzhou, Xianyang, Enshi and Shiyan.
"The money will not only be distributed to our people in Wuhan, but to all Indonesians who currently reside in the quarantined areas," he said on Wednesday.
The ministry hopes the cash aid will help Indonesians to buy food and other supplies until the isolation period ends, especially since prices are increasing in light of the outbreak, which has resulted in some students experiencing difficulty in securing supplies for themselves.
Judha also said that the ministry would wire more cash assistance if the Indonesians living in the affected areas still needed it.
"What's important is that we have to make sure that they have enough logistics supplies," he added.
The National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) also distributed on Wednesday 10,000 N95 masks for Indonesians in China through the Foreign Ministry's director-general for overseas citizen protection.
"[The masks] will be immediately taken to the airport to be sent to Beijing. The Indonesian Embassy in Beijing will spearhead the distribution of the masks," BNPB legal, organization and cooperation bureau head Zaherman Muabesi said.
The Chinese government has imposed lockdowns on at least 13 cities in Hubei province in an attempt to contain the spread of the fast-spreading pneumonia-like ailment, which as of Wednesday had killed 132 people in China and infected over 6,000 globally.
According to the Foreign Ministry, some 243 Indonesians currently live in the quarantined zone, around 100 of them residing in Wuhan. (dpk)