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Jakarta Post

Bali, Manado airports on SARS-like virus alert amid expected influx of Chinese tourists

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, January 23, 2020   /   04:30 pm
Bali, Manado airports on SARS-like virus alert amid expected influx of Chinese tourists A Port Health Office Worker monitors the body temperature of passengers through a thermal scanner in the arrival hall of I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali on Wednesday. Thermal scanners have been istalled at airports and seaports to detect a new coronavirus. (JP/Zul Trio Anggono)

Airports in Bali and Manado, North Sulawesi, have heightened monitoring of arriving international passengers in the wake of the Wuhan coronavirus outbreak as authorities predict an influx of Chinese tourists ahead of Chinese New Year on Saturday.

State-owned airport operator Angkasa Pura I (AP I) said all international airports it oversees had installed thermal scanners to measure passengers' body temperature and had issued health alert cards.

Much of the focus has been on Bali's I Gusti Ngurah Rai International Airport and Manado's Sam Ratulangi International Airport as both recorded a high number of Chinese tourists, with 1.19 million and 116,000 arrivals of Chinese nationals last year, respectively.

"Ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday, Bali and Manado will potentially experience a spike in Chinese tourists, so we need to raise precautions," AP I president director Faik Fahmi said in a statement on Wednesday.

Currently, Lion Air is the only Indonesian airline with a direct route connecting Denpasar in Bali with Wuhan in China, where the coronavirus, which bears similarities to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), was first detected on Dec. 31, 2019.

Faik added that prevention efforts would be heightened on passengers coming from countries affected by the coronavirus.

AFP reported that, aside from major cities in China, the virus has also been detected in Thailand, Japan and South Korea as well as the United States. Chinese officials have confirmed that the disease can spread among humans.

The airport operator would take further measures once passengers were found to have fever, a cough or breathing difficulties and a travel history linked to China.

"We suggest that all passengers, especially Indonesian citizens about to go abroad or return from abroad, continuously follow the development of the coronavirus. We also recommend that passengers use face masks that cover the mouth and nose, wash their hands frequently, maintain their health and report to airlines and airport staff when feeling any symptoms of the coronavirus," Faik said.

The Chinese government has classified the outbreak in the same category as the SARS epidemic, but they still have not been able to confirm the exact source of the virus, the AFP reported. With no vaccine currently available, the new virus has spread from Wuhan in Central China and has infected more than 500 people to date, killing 17. (ars)