Indonesia quarantines 'World Dream' crew members

188 crew from cruise ship sent to an uninhabited island for 14 days after being stuck in Hong Kong
Indonesia quarantines 'World Dream' crew members

An Indonesian health official takes temperature readings of arriving passengers amid concerns over the Covid-19 coronavirus at Jakarta International Airport on Feb. 23. (Photo: Goh Chai Hin/AFP)

Indonesia has quarantined 188 crew members brought home from a cruise ship stuck in Hong Kong since early this month amid growing coronavirus fears.  

The Indonesian crew members of the World Dream cruise ship started a 14-day quarantine program today, although there were no reports of any Covid-19 infections among them.

They were scheduled to arrive on Sebaru, an inhabited island about 60 kilometers north of Jakarta, on Feb. 28 where they will remain for the next two weeks for further observation before they can return to their homes.

A joint team of Indonesian military, police and health officials was accompanying them to the remote island.

The World Dream docked in Hong Kong on Feb. 9 where it remained to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus after several Chinese nationals were found to be infected aboard the ship in January, according to Reuters.

Indonesian nationals were also on the Diamond Princess cruise ship. Nine out of 68 Indonesian crew members aboard that ship tested positive for coronavirus and were quarantined in Yokohama, Japan, earlier this month. Latest reports say at least 691 infections have been confirmed on the ship and three people have died. 

President Joko Widodo said that although all those on the World Dream tested negative for Covid-19, they will be quarantined and observed on Sebaru island for 14 days.

Sebaru was chosen because it is uninhabited and also houses a drug rehabilitation center which is not being used.

Felix Gunawan, a Catholic doctor and chairman of the Jakarta-based Association of Indonesian Catholic Health Services, said the government has taken an effective measure to prevent the spread of the virus.

“People should not be afraid. They [the crew members] are being taken care of in accordance with World Health Organization procedures,” he told UCA News.

Previously, Indonesia repatriated 238 of its citizens from Wuhan, China, on Feb 2. They were also quarantined for 14 days on Natuna island off the northwest coast of Borneo.

Meanwhile, thousands of Muslims have canceled hajj pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia due to coronavirus fears. Saudi Arabia had also banned Muslims from countries where virus infections have been reported, although Indonesia was not one of those countries.

Presently, 47 countries have confirmed coronavirus cases. As of Feb. 28, there were 83,391 cases, with 2,858 deaths worldwide.

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