TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – The Indonesian Travel and Tourism Agencies Association (ASITA) reminds its members to anticipate the spreading of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) virus though South Korean tourists entering Indonesia. ASITA chairman Asnawi Bahar said there should be precautions in airports.
"We are sending out an early warning to travel businesses to anticipate incoming tourists to Indonesia. They have to check whether the tourists have received vaccines or ask for a health certificate," he said on Friday, June 5.
Asnawi said the number of tourists from South Korea is quite high, especially to Batam and Bali.
"To Bali alone the number could reach 400,000 to 500,000 tourists," he said.
ASITA asks the government to issue a policy to make sure that travelers heading to or from South Korea are safe from the virus. The association will write to the Health Minister and Tourism Minister to take strategic actions.
South Korea is dealing with MERS resurgence over the past couple of months. A total of 35 South Koreans have been affected so far, two of which have died. Local authorities are isolating the 1,369 people who had had direct contact with the MERS patient to avoid wider outbreak.
The MERS virus was first found in humans in 2012. The syndrome itself is caused by a coronavirus of the same type with the virus that causes SARS. The WHO had said that MERS has a higher death rate compared to SARS at 38 percent.
So far there have been 1,179 cases of MERS worldwide. A total of 442 cases resulted in death.
The Indonesian Ministry of Health has yet to issue a travel ban to South Korea. The ministry's head of research and development Tjandra Yoga Aditama said if the WHO still says it's OK to travel to South Korea, the Indonesian government will do the same.
ANDRI EL FARUQI