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Jakarta Post

Tourists from Wuhan monitored for coronavirus in Bintan get all clear, return home

  • Fadli

    The Jakarta Post

Batam   /   Fri, January 24, 2020   /   08:16 pm
Tourists from Wuhan monitored for coronavirus in Bintan get all clear, return home Travellers are checked by security personnel wearing hazardous material suits at the entrance to the underground train station in Beijing on Jan. 24. (AFP/Noel Celis)

Four tourists from Wuhan in China who visited a tourism area in Riau Islands have returned home after being isolated in a local hospital on suspicion of having been infected by the fast-spreading coronavirus.

Riau Islands Health Agency head Tjepjep Yudiana said that port health officials found indications on Jan. 19 and 20 that the four tourists, who were traveling to the province's Bintan Island, might have been infected by the pneumonia-like virus as they suffered from sore throats with high body temperatures.

The tourists were immediately admitted to the Riau Islands Regional General Hospital (RSUD) for further treatment under isolation.

Tjepjep did not disclose details on the tourists other than that they consisted of a man and a child, who were identified on Jan. 19, and two women identified on Jan. 20.

"After going through examination and isolation, they were diagnosed with a common fever. They returned home one day after their isolation period ended," Tjepjep told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

The four tourists -- who have returned to their home country through Singapore -- marked the first identification of suspected coronavirus cases in the province after authorities put up thermal scanners at various ports in Batam, Bintan and Karimun islands, he said.

Port health officials have heightened monitoring of ferry passengers coming from neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, Tjepjep said, adding that local authorities had also worked together with Singaporean authorities in prevention efforts as they did during the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and monkeypox outbreaks.

"We share experiences with each other and monitor suspected patients' incubation periods there, because interstate traffic is pretty high," he added.

Batam Port health office's head for epidemiology quarantine and surveillance Romer Simanungkalit said that the office had activated thermal scanners at international ferry ports and Hang Nadim International Airport in the island city.

"Officers in the field will remain alert in accordance with the escalation in cases and [emergency] status confirmation locally and globally," Romer said, adding that officials had been equipped with facial masks, gloves and other supporting equipment to protect themselves.

Riau Islands recorded the second-highest influx of tourists after Bali in 2019 with 2.5 million tourists, a majority of whom came from Singapore with 1.2 million visitors, followed by China at 260,274. Most of them came to the region through Singapore.

Indonesia has temporarily suspended all flights to and from Wuhan, the epicenter of the SARS-like virus, amid the outbreak that was first detected in December 2019 in the Chinese city and which has killed at least 18 people and infected hundreds of others to date.

China imposed a lockdown on Thursday that effectively bans 20 million people from leaving areas at the epicenter of the deadly virus outbreak by plane and train, in an unprecedented move aimed at containing the disease that has already spread to other countries, including Singapore, Japan and Thailand, AFP reported. (ars)