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Jakarta Post

Labuan Bajo ramps up screening of tourists after Indonesia confirms COVID-19 cases

  • Markus Makur

    The Jakarta Post

Labuan Bajo   /   Tue, March 3, 2020   /   03:17 pm
Labuan Bajo ramps up screening of tourists after Indonesia confirms COVID-19 cases Tourists enjoy Pink Beach at Komodo National Park in Labuan Bajo in West Manggarai, Flores, East Nusa Tenggara, on May 10, 2017. (The Jakarta Post/Markus Makur)

The East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) administration has said it will ramp up screening at its ports after Indonesia announced its first two confirmed coronavirus cases.

The province is home to the town of Labuan Bajo in West Manggarai regency – the gateway to the famous Komodo National Park, which saw 184,206 visitors last year.

"In regard to the two Indonesian citizens who tested positive for the novel coronavirus in Depok [West Java], East Nusa Tenggara Governor Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat has called on all authorities to anticipate [the spread of COVID-19] and screen tourists entering from all ports in the province," the administration's spokesperson, Marianus Jelamu, told The Jakarta Post on Monday.

Jelamu said the administration deployed to the town Sunday a medical team and a quarantine team to screen 930 passengers and 465 crew members of the MV Viking Sun cruise ship, which sailed from Darwin, Australia, and arrived in Labuan Bajo on Monday.

"Based on the report of the cruise ship's captain as stated in its Maritime Declaration of Health, all people aboard the ship have been declared healthy," Jelamu said, adding that the authorities would nevertheless examine all passengers and crew and have them undergo a thermal screening before allowing them entry into Komodo National Park.

Read also: Labuan Bajo hopes to maintain positive arrivals trend despite travel bans

As an international destination, Jelamu added, the Komodo Airport had installed early on a thermal scanner to check the health of foreign tourists.

A tourism player in West Manggarai, Martha Muslin, expressed his worry to the Post on Monday that the COVID-19 outbreak would reduce the number of arrivals in tourist destinations such as Bali, resulting in employee cuts.

"I hope the coronavirus outbreak can be contained soon," he said.

Data from the Komodo Airport as of October 2019 showed that foreign tourist arrivals to Labuan Bajo saw a 16.17 percent year-on-year increase, part of which was attributed to the increase in Chinese visitors, reported in early February.

Indonesia's temporary suspension of all flights to and from China, however, is expected to affect the town's tourism. (ars)