The Indonesian government said that they are evacuating 245 Indonesian citizens trapped in the epicentre of the new coronavirus. The flight departed from Jakarta's Soekarno-Hatta International airport on Saturday to Wuhan.

The Indonesian government is set to quarantine the civilians who are mostly located in Hubei province once they return to the country. They are set to be taken to the Natuna Islands as soon as they land. The Indonesian foreign minister Retno Marsudi confirmed that the citizens are all in good condition. He said that he had been in contact with them since last night and assured that the people were all in good condition and happy to return home.

WHO protocols on screening

Batik Air flight
Batik Air flight Wikimedia Commons

The Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto said that the people were screened according to the World Health Organisation's protocols. Around 250 citizens including the evacuation personnel will return to the country on Sunday. Natuna is a military base and has military personnel trained to help in case of an emergency. The Islands also has a hospital in the quarantine zone.

The flight to Hubei is also carrying medical supplies such as surgical masks and surgical units which will be handed to the Chinese government. China had cleared planes to fly to the province to evacuate the Indonesian citizens on Friday. As of Saturday, the number of deaths rose to 259 with over 11,000 confirmed cases.

Is evacuation a safe option?

Countries are rushing to save their citizens from the virus by getting them to come back to their respective states. But, questions are being raised for the practicality of doing this. Japan, the US, and France were the first few countries to rush to their citizens trapped amid the health crisis in Wuhan.

Hours after the Japanese citizens reached their country, four cases were reported. Similarly, 201 of the US citizens from Wuhan but they are still under surveillance for any sign of the virus and Center for Disease Control has been looking for any sign of the virus in the travellers. Several countries are trying to bring back their citizens for the welfare of protecting them. But at the same time, there has been criticism about a spread as well.