AS MANY as 1,970 Indonesians working for several cruise ships in Germany have returned to Indonesia over the past few weeks, according to the Indonesian Embassy in Berlin.

A total of 242 Indonesian crew members of the Mein Schiff 3, Mein Schiff 4, Mein Schiff 5, and Mein Schiff 6 cruise ships left for the Ngurah Rai International Airport, Bali on Wednesday (Germany time). They landed at the resort island on Thursday, the embassy revealed in a press statement received in Jakarta on Thursday.

“This is the last repatriation. Alhamdulillah (Thank God), all of them have tested negative for COVID-19,” Indonesian Ambassador to Germany,” Arif Havas Oegroseno, said.

The Indonesian sailors boarded a chartered flight of TUI Fly’s TB 8333, which took off from the Hamburg International Airport at 6 p.m. local time on Wednesday.

As of May 19, 2020, the Indonesian Government has facilitated the return of 99,543 Indonesian citizens from abroad. Majority of them are Indonesian migrant workers working in Malaysia and Indonesian sailors employed with foreign cruise ships.

However, many Indonesian citizens cannot yet return home amid the COVID-19 pandemic, which has forced countries to close borders and enforce lockdowns and travel restrictions.

Among them are 808 members of the Jamaah Tabligh congregation, who remain stranded abroad, the Indonesian Foreign Ministry revealed.

Over the past months, Indonesia, Germany, and many other countries across the world have been battling the spread of the new coronavirus disease. The Indonesian government officially announced the country’s first two confirmed COVID-19 cases on March 2 this year.

The deadly coronavirus surfaced in Wuhan at the end of December 2019, and China’s lack of transparency and goodwill to tell the truth about human-to-human transmissions from the start has been blamed for the spread of COVID-19 across the world.

The Government of the United States, where several people have succumbed to COVID-19, has accused the Chinese Government of having “intentionally concealed the severity of the coronavirus from the international community” (CNN on May 4, 2020).

Washington has argued that “China likely cut its exports of medical supplies prior to its WHO (World Health Organization) January notification that COVID-19 is a contagion”, according to a Department of Homeland Security report that CNN quoted on May 4, 2020.Indonesia has witnessed the deaths of several doctors and nurses while fighting the coronavirus pandemic. [antaranews]