China national found infected on return cleared checks in Bali

Passengers wear face masks at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali on Feb 9, 2020.
Passengers wear face masks at Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali on Feb 9, 2020.PHOTO: NYTIMES

The Indonesian health authorities said yesterday that the Chinese national returning from Bali who tested positive for the coronavirus in China had likely been well while he was in the country.

Identified only as Mr Jin, the 35-year-old resident of Huainan in Anhui province travelled with his wife and child to Bali's Denpasar from Wuhan, the epicentre of the coronavirus outbreak, and returned from Denpasar to Shanghai, according to information from Indonesia's consulate-general in Shanghai.

Prior to his flight to Shanghai on Jan 28, he was found to be well in temperature checks, claimed Mr Achmad Yurianto, secretary at the Health Ministry's disease control and prevention director-general.

"If he had been ill, he would have been banned from flying (from Bali)," he told The Straits Times in a phone call. He added that Mr Jin had been declared healthy by the Chinese authorities before flying from Wuhan to Denpasar.

Indonesia began temperature screening of inbound travellers at air and sea checkpoints last month.

Responding to a Jakarta Post report that the Huainan Centre for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed Mr Jin's illness on Feb 5, the Health Ministry said it carried out checks and found no increase in the rates of flu-like illness or pneumonia in Bali while he was there, which made it unlikely that he had been infected before he arrived in Indonesia.

Lion Air spokesman Danang Mandala Prihantoro said on Wednesday that the Bali airport authorities had screened all air crew and passengers on the JT2818 flight and none had displayed signs of illness. On board were two pilots, one co-pilot, six flight attendants, two technicians and 188 passengers.

Indonesia has temporarily halted all flights from and to China, where the death toll from the coronavirus has surpassed 1,300, with nearly 60,000 confirmed cases.

In recent years, Indonesia has become a destination for Chinese tourists, who last year totalled some 2.1 million.

To reduce the damage from the coronavirus outbreak, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said yesterday the government would support the aviation and tourism industries by cutting landing charges and airport fees for carriers and give incentives to hotels and businesses in areas popular among Chinese holidaymakers, such as Bali, Manado in North Sumatra, and the Riau Islands.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 14, 2020, with the headline 'China national found infected on return cleared checks in Bali'. Subscribe