The Diamond Princess cruise ship, with more than 3,000 people on board, sits anchored in quarantine off the port of Yokohama on Feb. 4, a day after it arrived with passengers feeling ill. (Behrouz MEHRI / AFP) (AFP/Behrouz Mehri)

Coronavirus: Indonesia to screen ships seeking to dock from China


State-owned port operator PT Pelabuhan Indonesia II (Pelindo II) will start screening every vessel and ship from China seeking to dock in Indonesia's ports, to reduce the risk of the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19, from spreading in the archipelago.

"As the gates of entry for cargo and humans, of course we have to employ preventive measures [at seaports] to prevent the coronavirus from entering Indonesia," Pelindo II president director Elvyn G. Masassya said as quoted by Antara.

Citing new standard operating procedures, Elvyn said Pelindo II and port health office personnel would check every vessel from China and screen the crew members on board while the ship was still on the waters, or before it sought to dock at the country's ports.

"Only if everything is safe we will allow the vessel to drop anchor in our [ports]," he said.

The move is among the latest efforts by Indonesian authorities seeking to contain the outbreak, which has killed nearly 1,500 since it first emerged from the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December and has since spread globally.

Earlier this week, the Sabang administration in Aceh called for foreign cruise ship MS Artania to delay its planned arrival in the city on Feb. 16 amid fears of the virus, following Japan's decision to quarantine the Diamond Princess cruise ship and its 3,700 passengers in Yokohama after one of the passengers tested positive for the coronavirus.

As of Thursday, 218 people on board the Diamond Princess have tested positive for the virus, AFP reported.

Some 78 Indonesian citizens were among crew members of the quarantined cruise ship. The Foreign Ministry said they were all in good condition as of Wednesday. (gis)