February 24, 2020 / 10:28 AM / a month ago

Indonesia to bring back citizens aboard World Dream cruise by naval ship

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia has sent a navy ship to bring back 188 of its nationals working as crew aboard the World Dream cruise liner amid coronavirus concerns, a minister and a health ministry official said on Monday.

FILE PHOTO: Passengers wearing face masks look out from a cabin on the World Dream cruise ship, after it had been denied entry in Taiwan amid concerns of coronavirus infection on board, at the Kai Tak Cruise Terminal in Hong Kong, China February 6, 2020. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

The World Dream ship had been denied entry in Taiwan before docking in Hong Kong earlier this month. Its 1,800 passengers disembarked there but a similar number of crew stayed on board.

Three Chinese nationals, who had been aboard the ship between Jan. 19 and 24, were found to have contracted the virus

Achmad Yurianto, a health ministry official, told Reuters the ship was now in international waters near Singapore and 188 Indonesian crew members were set to be brought back. He said crew members could be quarantined for “up to 28 days.”

Muhadjir Effendy, Indonesia’s chief human development minister, said the navy ship, equipped with medical facilities, would pick up Indonesian crew members.

They would be taken to an uninhabited island with “good facilities” in the Java Sea north of Jakarta for observation, he said.

“We will observe them according to procedures set by the WHO (World Health Organization),” he said.

Passengers had disembarked from World Dream on Feb. 9, leaving the 1,814 crew members on board, according to World Dream’s operator, Dream Cruises.

In a statement, Dream Cruises said after it had suspended its operations, Hong Kong health authorities had confirmed that all passengers and crew on the final sailing had passed extensive health screenings and temperature checks.

“Dream Cruises has been working closely with the regional authorities in facilitating the transfer and disembarkation of its crew members in different phases from World Dream due to the various nationalities,” the statement said.

Indonesia announced plans last week to bring back 74 of its nationals from the Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan that has been affected by a coronavirus outbreak.

Indonesia’s health minister, Terawan Agus Putranto, told reporters on Monday that the government was still negotiating with the Japanese government on the best way to evacuate the Indonesians.

Separately, Indonesian authorities were investigating a report that a Japanese citizen had tested positive for the coronavirus after traveling to the Southeast Asian country earlier this month.

Teuku Faizasyah, a spokesman at Indonesia’s foreign ministry, said that information had been received from Japanese authorities and the man’s movements were being traced.

Indonesia has yet to confirm any cases on its soil. The virus has killed over 2,500 people and infected more than 77,000 in China.

Reporting by Maikel Jefriando and Jessica Damiana; Writing by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Ed Davies and

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