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Bali – a Welcome not to Sneeze at!

Caronavirus Update: Bali Remains Ready to Welcome Foreign Visitors in Midst of Global Corona Virus Alert

Bali’s Governor I Wayan Koster has announced that he remains personally positive that with good planning and coordination the threat posed by the novel coronavirus can be contained and controlled and that international tourists can continue unafraid to holiday on an Island that has ranked among the world’s most popular tropical destination in past surveys and polls conducted by international publications, including Condé Nast Traveler.

Koster’s comments were made on Monday, February 3, 2020, following a coordination meeting held at Jaya Sabha – the official residence of Bali’s Governor.  The meeting to monitor current developments, both regionally and globally, in the coronavirus outbreak was led by Governor Koster and attended by the Deputy-Governor, together with leading officials from the Island’s health service, police, immigration, and official tourism service. Tourism stakeholder organizations representing hotels, restaurants, tourist attractions, and travel agents also participated in the briefing.

The latest data from the World Health Organization (WHO) in Situation Report #24 issued on February 03, 2020, contained the following valuable information:

  • There are now 17,328 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus (2019 –nCoV), increasing another 2,831 cases in the past 24 hours.
  • 99.2 % of all known cases of the novel coronavirus have occurred in China. The main areas of infections in China are largely confined to Hubei, Zhejiang, Guandong, Henan, and Hunan that on a combined basis account for 13,671 cases or 79.3% of all known cases in China.
  • 2,296 (13.3%) of the known cases of 2019-nCoV have been classified as “Severe” – a number that has increased by 186 in the past 24 hours.
  • As of February 3, 2020, the total number of deaths attributed to 2019-nCoV stands at 361 with 57 of those deaths occurring in the last 24 hours.
  • WHO reports that only 153 cases outside of China have been reported, increasing by 7 cases in the past 24 hours. These 153 cases are spread across 23 countries. No new countries have been added to the list of the 23 nations with known cases of 2019 –nCoV in the 24 hours prior to the last WHO Update on February 23, 2020.
  • As of February 3, 2020, no confirmed cases of 2019 –nCoV have been detected in Indonesia.

In Indonesia, international passengers arriving at major airports undergo screening by health officials that include thermal-scanning and are issued written instructions on resources and steps to be taken in the event symptoms of the disease occur. Using protocols and procedures learned in managing past health emergencies such as Avian Influenza in 2003 and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) in 2017.

WHO have announced the imminent release of a “2019-nCoV kit" that will allow medical personnel to quickly identify 2019-nCoV infections and take the steps to manage new cases and reduce the potential spread of the disease. Presently, all suspected cases of 2019-nCoV are currently confirmed following laboratory tests conducted by the Ministry of Health in Jakarta. To date, all cases of suspected coronavirus – including several in Bali – have all tested “negative” for the disease.

Reviewing the current health situation in Bali in consultation with all the relevant government agencies, Governor Koster said: “Bali is safe and ready to welcome tourists from various parts of the world.” Saying that Bali continues to a quality tourism product operated by highly qualified and hospitable personnel eager to share their unique culture with foreign visitors, the Island’s Chief Executive added: “Tourists have no reason to hesitate in their plans to visit Bali.”

Stake holding organizations – principally from the hotel and restaurant sector are being reminded to reinforce measures learned in the past during the Middle-East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) events. Per instructions provided by WHO, among the continuing measures being stringently applied in Bali are:

  • Avoiding close contact with people suffering from acute respiratory infections.
  • Frequent hand-washing, especially after direct contact with ill people or their environment
  • Avoiding unprotected contact with farm or wild animals.
  • People with symptoms of acute respiratory infection are being asked to practice cough etiquette (maintain distance, cover coughs and sneezes with disposable tissues or clothing, and frequently wash hands).
  • Within Indonesian healthcare facilities, enhanced standards of infection prevention and control practices are in place, especially in emergency departments.

While WHO has not recommended any specific health measures for travelers, anyone exhibiting symptoms of a respiratory illness either during or after travel, should seek medical attention and share their travel history with their healthcare provider.

Bali’s many modern hospitals have trained personnel, medical equipment, and protocols - including, isolation facilities, if required, to deal with the developing 2019 –nCoV outbreak.

Aware of its obligation to protect both its local citizens and the more than 6 million foreign tourists who come to Bali each year, the Island’s leaders and those charged with mitigating any potential natural disaster remain vigilant in monitoring the progress of 2019 –nCoV on a round-the-clock basis.

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