An All Nippon Airways jet arrived at Narita Airport on July 14 carrying 52 Japanese nationals who fled Indonesia where COVID-19 cases have been surging recently.

The flight, chartered by the major construction company Shimizu Corp., brought home employees and family members.

The only passengers on the plane, which has a seating capacity of 246, were those affiliated with Shimizu, according to ANA officials.

Those who wish to be vaccinated against COVID-19 can receive jabs at their workplace, a Shimizu official said.

The Delta variant has spiked COVID-19 cases in Indonesia from July. On July 14, a record of approximately 54,000 new cases was confirmed. In addition to the strained medical care situation, Indonesia has also been reporting about 800 daily fatalities.

About 340 Japanese nationals in Indonesia have tested positive for COVID-19 and 14 have died, according to the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta. The figures represent increases of 70 cases and six fatalities over a period of about 10 days.

Another 50 or so Japanese nationals are awaiting hospitalization in Indonesia.

The government designated the Shimizu-chartered flight as being outside the daily limits on arrivals from abroad that had been set at 2,000 or so since March.

Under those restrictions, Japanese carriers are allowed to bring in 3,400 travelers from abroad on a weekly basis, while foreign carriers are limited to 40 passengers per flight.

The ANA chartered flight from Jakarta will not be included in the company’s weekly limit.

Shimizu, as it hired the flight, is responsible for finding accommodations for the passengers aboard it, where they will have to self-quarantine for 10 days. Ordinarily, arrivals from Indonesia are required to stay at government-designated accommodations for that period.

Many of the other Japanese nationals living in Indonesia were unaware of the rescue flight. There had been hopes that the Japanese government would charter special flights out of Indonesia given the rising COVID-19 numbers there.

One 21-year university student reserved a flight home but was later confirmed with COVID-19.

“I am very worried because I will not be able to enter a hospital if my symptoms should worsen,” she said. “I want to return to Japan while still alive.”

A Japanese man working in Indonesia said the government should charter flights that any Japanese national can utilize and called the chartered flight a measure to protect only certain Japanese.

According to a high-ranking Foreign Ministry official, the Japanese Embassy in Jakarta has set up a team in cooperation with Japanese organizations in Indonesia to coordinate special flights out of that nation.

One official said that special flights outside of the daily arrival restrictions could be implemented from not only Indonesia, but other nations as well, as long as those arriving passengers found accommodations on their own for self-quarantining.

(This article was written by Naoko Handa in Jakarta and Tatsuya Sato in Tokyo.)