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COVID-19: Nearly 90,000 Indonesians return home after more than 700 infected abroad

Jakarta Post - May 11, 2020

Apriza Pinandita, Jakarta – While many countries are imposing strict lockdown policies, Indonesia has recorded an influx of citizens returning from abroad – nearly 90,000 as of Monday.

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said 89,595 citizens had been repatriated as of Monday.

Of the total, 72,966 citizens arrived from Malaysia. Most of the returnees were those who had been impacted by Malaysia's movement control order (MCO), which is in place until June 9.

Other citizens arrived from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Algeria and Egypt, among others.

"There will be more from Egypt and Oman in the near future," Retno said in a press briefing from the COVID-19 task force headquarters in Jakarta on Monday. She added that dozens of citizens from Bangladesh were expected to arrive on Monday.

According to the ministry, more than 14,200 Indonesian crew members have arrived in the country through four points of entry: Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali, Tanjung Priok Port in Jakarta and Benoa Port in Bali.

Retno said 567 other crew members would arrive on three more ships, without mentioning the exact date of arrival.

There are still other Indonesian citizens who are unable to come home, such as those stranded in India. Most of them are the members of Tablighi Jamaat.

"The government is still finding a way to bring them home by coordinating with other countries whose citizens are experiencing similar obstacles, such as Bangladesh, Malaysia and others," Retno added.

India is one of many countries that have imposed strict lockdowns to curb the spread of COVID-19, which has infected more than four million people globally and has caused more than 238,000 deaths.

According to the Foreign Ministry, 734 Indonesians abroad had tested positive for COVID-19 as of Monday in at least 33 foreign territories and aboard 20 international cruise liners. About 300 are being treated, while more than 370 have recovered, and 41 have died.

"All Indonesian diplomatic missions abroad are consistently coordinating with the respective countries to ensure [citizens abroad] receive good treatment," Retno said.

The government – with support from Indonesian civil society groups and local communities – is helping citizens abroad in need of assistance because of the pandemic.

As of Monday, more than 375,000 aid packages had been distributed to affected citizens abroad.

"We give our highest appreciation to the Indonesian communities abroad who have been tirelessly helping those in need," said Retno.

The government has guaranteed that the returning citizens will follow the standardized health protocols to ensure they are not carrying the virus.

Retno concluded the briefing by urging regional administrations to be actively involved in handling the returning citizens, as collaboration between central and local government was vital to ensure citizens' protection.

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/05/11/covid-19-nearly-90000-indonesians-return-home-after-more-than-700-infected-abroad.html