Ngurah Rai Airport Stages Bird Flu Exercise

TUBAN ~ The authorities wrapped up a major three-day bird flu drill in Bali with an exercise focused on passengers at the island’s international airport.

In a simulation on Sunday, departing passengers were made to pass a scanner that detects body temperature. Among the travellers were three undercover personnel who simulated having high fever but insisted on leaving on their flights.

Staff steered them to a clinic at the airport and when test results showed they might have bird flu infections, the three were sent to the main hospital in Denpasar.

Despite posters notifying the public of the exercise, some tourists appeared concerned by the operations, as all personnel involved in the operation were wearing face masks.

“We were a bit worried but then we saw the posters. It’s fine, better be prepared,” said Angela Foster, an Australian tourist who was to fly back home through the airport.

“It is important as part of our bird flu containment efforts. We do not want to export a disease,” I Nyoman Kandun, the Health Ministry’s director general for handling of infectious disease, told journalists at the airport.

The simulation was the last part of a national exercise practicing how to contain the spread of a bird flu outbreak.

Indonesia is the nation worst hit by the bird flu so far, with 108 dead since the first human case appeared here in 2005.

Transmissions have so far been from bird to human but experts worry that the H5N1 virus that causes the disease could mutate and allow human-to-human transmission, leading to a pandemic.

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