President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, said that the country' policies in suspending flights from China and temporarily curb imports has been taken to protect national interests, amid the discontent expressed by the ambassador - Photo by the President Office

JAKARTA (TheInsiderStories – President of Indonesia, Joko Widodo, said that the country’ policies in suspending flights from China and temporarily curb imports has been taken to protect national interests, amid the discontent expressed by the ambassador. The coronavirus outbreak are the reason, said the head of state.

On Tuesday, Chinese ambassador for Indonesia, Xiao Qian said, the government’ decision has potential to give a negative effect on the bilateral trade between the two countries in the future. He was wary that it could be hampered by irrational decisions and overreaction. 

Commenting on China’ complaint, transportation minister Budi Karya Sumadi, assured that any foreign policies applied by the government had been carefully considered. He adds, “Hopefully, the business ties of the two countries will continue.” 

On the same day, tourism minister, Wishnutama Kusubandio, said the acute respiratory disease may cause losses of up to R54.8 trillion (US$3.91 billion). Under the heavy outbreak, his ministry will have to readjust this year’ goal and adding number of foreign tourists outside China. To offset the losses, he asserted, Indonesia boost the domestic tourism.

China has reported the death toll from the coronavirus has risen to 563 with the number of confirmed cases jumping to 28,256 until Wednesday. The death toll and number of people infected continues to grow, with no signs of slowing despite severe quarantine and population control methods in the second largest economy in the world.

While, Indonesia has evacuated 243 citizens from China’ Hubei province on Feb. 2 and placed them under quarantine at a military base on the sparsely populated Natuna Besar island northwest of Borneo. A total of 285 people, including the flight crew and the team involved in the evacuation, will have to stay there for 14 days under observation.

Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the Indonesians previously trapped in the locked-down city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus, and other cities in Hubei province are in good health.

“All have been declared healthy according to World Health Organization standards. Indonesian health minister and staff will open the office in Natuna and updates the progress,” Marsudi said after a limited meeting with President Joko Widodo.

In addition, the government will also temporarily stop flights to and from mainland China, excluding Hong Kong and Macau, starting Wednesday until the deadline to be determined later. It will immediately bar visitors who have been in China for 14 days from entering or transiting, the minister said.

Furthermore, the policy of granting visa-free and on-arrival visa facilities for Chinese nationals residing in mainland China is temporarily suspended. The government also asks Indonesian citizens to temporarily not travel to mainland China.

All Indonesian airlines were asked to postpone all flight plans to and from all destinations in China until the deadline to be determined later. Currently, five national airlines operating flights to China include PT Garuda Indonesia Tbk (IDX: GIAA), PT Citilink Indonesia, Lion Air, Batik Air, and Sriwijaya Air.

The new virus is believed to have emerged in December from a market that sold wild game in the Hubei provincial capital Wuhan. Hubei has been under virtual quarantine, with roads sealed off and public transport shut down. Elsewhere, China has placed growing restrictions on travel and business. The province extended its Lunar New Year holiday break to Feb. 13 in a bid to contain the outbreak.

The epidemic has ballooned into a global health emergency, with cases reported in more than 20 countries. The G-7 countries – Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States, all of which have confirmed cases of the virus – will discuss a joint response to the outbreak, AP reported.

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