Thousands of viruses in a China-backed plant in Indonesia

Jakarta (AFP) – More than 40,000 workers in a huge, China-controlled industrial complex in Indonesia have been quarantined because the spread of a deadly coronavirus strain in China has killed more than 200 people, Friday said.

The industrial park PT Indonesia Morowali has cordoned off its nickel mining center on the island of Sulawesi and prevents 43,000 employees from entering or leaving without written permission.

Around 5,000 guest workers from mainland China work at the extensive site, where nickel ore smelting and stainless steel are produced.

The 2,000-hectare facility, which is majority owned by the Chinese Shanghai Decent Investment Group, is currently undergoing medical tests and no infection has been identified, said company spokesman Dedy Kurniawan.

The company also banned foreign employees or guests who entered the complex and installed thermal scanners at the entrance, he added.

“We identified and investigated foreign workers from Wuhan,” Kurniawan told AFP on Friday.

“We also stopped accepting foreign workers.”

Indonesia has not reported confirmed infections to date.

Wuhan, the capital of Hubei Province, is at the center of the outbreak, which is believed to come from a market where wild animals were sold.

The city, with a population of 11 million, has since experienced an unprecedented blockage that prevents residents from leaving the city to prevent the deadly virus from spreading further.

The Indonesian factory’s freeze, which started at the weekend, came when Indonesia said Friday was preparing to evacuate more than 240 nationals stranded in China near the epicenter of the virus over the next 24 hours.

Indonesia, a Southeast Asian archipelago, attracts over a million Chinese tourists to Bali and other resorts every year, and also hosts thousands of migrant workers from China, a major investor.

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