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Palembang won’t let coronavirus fears spoil Cap Go Meh

Yulia Savitri

The Jakarta Post

Palembang, South Sumatra  /  Sat, February 8, 2020  /  05:31 pm
Palembang won’t let coronavirus fears spoil Cap Go Meh

The Soei Goeat Kiong temple is one of the attractions on Kemaro Island, South Sumatra. (Shutterstock/Sony Herdiana)

Kemaro Island, a little piece of land in South Sumatra’s Musi River, is something like the Chinatown of Palembang since Thursday night.

Thousands of lanterns and candles in temples, along with the flickering lights of pagodas, lend a sense of festivity to the annual Cap Go Meh celebration on the island. It began with a prayer ritual at midnight.

Also known as the “happy day”, Cap Go Meh, which translates to “the fifteenth night”, closes 15 days of Chinese New Year festivities. This year, Cap Go Meh falls on Saturday.

Tens of thousands of people have visited Kemaro Island since Thursday afternoon – some to pray and others to watch Chinese puppetry and lion dance performances. All have enjoyed the culinary attractions.

Read also: Jakarta celebrates Cap Go Meh with festival, performances

Despite global fears over the novel coronavirus, Palembang is open to local and international tourists. As a precautionary measure, most visitors wore masks while enjoying the festivities, including during prayers.

Husin, caretaker of Kemaro Island, said most of the visitors came from South Sumatra as well as from Malaysia, Singapore and China, but he even met travelers from Europe on Thursday afternoon.

Husin appeared unconcerned about the coronavirus, saying he trusted the government for anticipating and controlling the virus.

Fahroji, the general manager of airport operator PT Angkasa Pura II in Palembang, said the state-owned company had installed thermal scanners and prepared isolation rooms prior to Indonesia’s travel ban to and from China on Monday. He added that there were no direct flights between China and Palembang. (wng)

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