02/05/2020, 12.19
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Bali denies transit to 17 East Timorese students evacuated from China

by Mathias Hariyadi

Dili had asked to quarantine them. The provincial authorities refused on the basis of considerations and contributions from various tour operators on the island. As of today, the suspension of flights to and from China enters into force.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) - The provincial administration of Bali has rejected East Timor's request to quarantine 17 students on the island who are waiting to be repatriated from China due to the coronavirus epidemic.

The group needed to pass through the international stopover to return to Dili, the East Timorese capital.

From midnight today in Indonesia the suspension of flights and flights to and from all regions of mainland China entered into force, a measure adopted by Jakarta to counter the spread of coronavirus in the country.

Three days ago the Indonesian Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, said that national borders are closed for all visitors who have been to China in the previous 14 days.

During a press conference with local media in Denpasar, the head of the Health Department of Bali province, I Ketut Suarjaya, yesterday announced that the Governor had decided to reject the request for assistance from East Timor. This had come on previous day, through the Indonesian embassy in Dili.

The decision to deny the transit to 17 students was made on the basis of considerations and contributions from various tour operators operating in Bali. Local authorities have also asked the latter to collect and provide data of all visitors of Chinese nationality in the island's tourist facilities.

Arie Ahsanurrohim, spokesman for I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport, announced yesterday that "164 of the 247 regular flights from Bali to China will be suspended". 55 planes for Hong Kong and 28 for Taiwan will be able to take off.

Bali's Indonesian Tour Guide Association (HPI) reports that the viral epidemic has hit tourism hard on the island: nearly 1,000 Chinese-speaking tour guides are currently unemployed. Some moved on to other jobs; others have chosen to return to their hometowns.

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