February 2, 2020 / 11:50 AM / 14 days ago

Indonesia bars entry to visitors from China amid evacuation protest

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia on Sunday barred entry to visitors who have been in China for 14 days over concern about coronavirus, as citizens evacuated from Hubei province faced protests by some residents on their return home.

Medical officers spray Indonesian nationals with antiseptic after they arrived from Wuhan, China center of the coronavirus epidemic, before transferring them to the Natuna Islands military base to be quarantined, at Hang Nadim Airport in Batam, Riau Islands, Indonesia, February 2, 2020 in this photo taken by Antara Foto. Antara Foto/via REUTERS

There have not been any confirmed cases of coronavirus in Indonesia, but neighbouring Philippines on Sunday reported the first death from the virus outside China.

Indonesia will also temporarily stop flights to and from mainland China starting Wednesday. It will immediately bar visitors who have been in China for 14 days from entering or transiting, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told a televised news conference.

Indonesia’s Lion Air Group has already stopped its flights to China.

Marsudi also asked Indonesians not to travel to China during the coronavirus epidemic.

In China, the virus has killed 304 people and infected more than 14,000. More than 20 other countries and regions outside mainland China have also reported cases.

Earlier on Sunday, the government flew 243 Indonesians from China’s Hubei province, the epicentre of the virus, and placed them under quarantine at a military base on the sparsely populated Natuna Besar island northwest of Borneo.

Marsudi said a total of 285 people, including flight crew and the team involved in the evacuation, will have to stay there for 14 days under observation.

Although she said all were reportedly healthy, their presence on the island alarmed some residents.

Around 200 people set tyres ablaze during a protest rally on Sunday, regional police spokesman Harry Goldenhard said by telephone.

“What the government is doing has been weighed and planned carefully. The location of the observatory is far from their homes, some 6 km (3.7 miles) away,” he said.

“The virus won’t spread,” Goldenhard said.

Editing by Ed Davies, Christopher Cushing and Frances Kerry

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