National

Ngurah Rai airport installs
thermal scanners, body
cleaners to prevent disea

The Ngurah Rai International Airport in Badung set up Monday two thermal scanners and body cleaners as part of efforts to control the spread of infectious diseases such as hand foot and mouth disease (HFMD), SARS and avian flu.

"Considering that we're facing migration diseases nowadays, it is the perfect time for an international gate, like the airport, to block the spread of illnesses," head of Ngurah Rai airport's health service agency Wayan Murtiyasa told reporters during the installment of the health equipment at the international arrival gates.

Murtiyasa added that thermal scanners were previously installed during the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in 2005.

"But since the machines were broken down, we had to bring them back to Jakarta to get the fixed before they were set up again today *Monday*," he said.

"Meanwhile, it is the first time for body cleaners to be set up here. The Korean-made machines were sent by the Health Ministry."

Murtiyasa added that the agency also owns an X-ray machine.

A set of thermal scanners and body cleaners have been placed at the east and west gates of the international terminal, while the X-ray machine is located in the quarantine room.

A camera-based scanner screens all passengers arriving from international destinations before they are permitted to exit the terminal.

"If a passenger has a body temperature above 155 degrees Fahrenheit or 38.5 degrees Celsius, he or she will be directed to the body clean disinfectant health quarantine, or body cleaner, to get sprayed with a 70 percent alcohol solution," agency employee Ananto Prasetyo Hadi said, adding that body temperature is identified by red coloring on the scanner monitor.

Murtiyasa further added that after the spraying, a person who is believed to be infected with a disease will be transferred to the quarantine office to be examined.

"If the person believed to have a possible migration disease is just having a usual fever, we will give them medicine to reduce their body temperature," he said.

"But if the examination shows a specific symptom of any migration disease, we will directly send them to Sanglah General Hospital."

Besides Bali, airports in Medan, North Sumatra; Jakarta, Surabaya, East Java; Semarang, Central Java; Makassar, South Sulawesi; as well as Batam will also set up such health control facilities.

Australian Marten Hubbeling, who runs a travel agency for meeting, incentive, convention and event (MICE) gatherings in Bali, said that he supports the action taken by the Indonesian government on health control.

"It shows that Indonesia, particularly Bali, has made an effort to control the spread of the diseases; speaking about the current issues on SARS and rabies."

Nevertheless, Hubbeling is concerned that the health machines will add more queuing time during arrival.

"As well all know that passengers take some time to get done with visas, immigration and luggage," he said.

"I'm afraid if the airport officials cannot handle it well, passengers will lose more time undergoing such examinations."

Commenting on the installment, spokesman of state-owned airport operator PT Angkasa Pura I M. Dimyati said that the firm gave its full support to any service related to the comfort of passengers.

"The installment shows that we are ready to help block the spread of certain diseases," he said.

Meanwhile, Sanglah Hospital's officer in charge of medical services and treatment, Ken Wirasandhi, said that he had not received an official announcement from the health ministry about the possible threat of an outbreak of Singaporean flu.

"As far as we know, the Singaporean flu is another name for HFMD, and it's not dangerous like avian flu or rabies. Therefore, for now, we don't need any special set up to counter its *HFMD* spread," he added.

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