04/08/2020, 16.16
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Passengers jump into the sea to avoid testing, quarantine

by Mathias Hariyadi

The incident occurred in Maumere, Flores Island, where a ship was not allowed to dock. After 19 hours of negotiations, those on board were allowed to disembark, sent to local quarantine facilities. Indonesia’s Health Ministry imposed a partial lockdown on Jakarta.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Weeks before the celebration of Idul Fitri (Eid al-Fitr), millions of Indonesians are travelling to their hometown for family reunions. The traditional mass exodus is known as Mudik.

In Jakarta, despite a government order not to travel, many have already left. But what happened in Lorens Say Port, Maumere, Flores Island, East Nusa Tenggara Province, had Indonesians riveted following the incident unfold between last night and noon today.

Initially, the Sikka Regency (district) Chief Fransiskus Roberto Diogo had authorised people on the KM Lambelu (pictured) to go ashore, but yesterday, when the ship tried to dock in Maumere, port authorities refused permission in order to stop the possible spread of the COVID-19 virus. This led to dozens of passengers jumping into the sea.

"Some passengers put on a life jacket and jumped into the sea," said I Putu Sudayana, head of the local rescue team.

Only after more than 19 hours of intense negotiations between the ship's captain and Sikka officials were 233 passengers able to disembark, but only after agreeing to enter local quarantine facilities where they will stay until allowed to leave by health authorities. No family member will be able to visit them.

The incident stems from rumours that some passengers and crew members had contracted the COVID-19 virus. A local official, Marius Ardu Jelamu, said three passengers had tested positive and should be under self-quarantine.

Meanwhile, in Jakarta, Indonesia’s Health Ministry imposed a partial lockdown on the city, as requested by Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan, to curb the spread of the virus. Anyone who violates the order will be prosecuted.

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