Airport Tightens Checks for Swine Flu

TUBAN ~ Upgraded thermal sensors have been installed at Ngurah Rai International Airport to help ensure detection of passengers arriving from declared swine flu areas – including Australia – who might have the disease.

The announcement came as Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari released new figures in Jakarta that show six Indonesians have contracted the disease, five of them overseas and one, a 37-year-old pilot who had been to Australia and Hong Kong before becoming ill, who is in a Jakarta hospital in isolation.

Bali has one confirmed case – a British woman living in Australia who arrived here on a Garuda flight from Melbourne on June 19 and became ill two days later. The woman, Bobie Masoner, 22, is recovering in Sanglah Hospital’s isolation ward.

A possible second Bali case is an Australian boy, 12, who arrived on the same aircraft as Ms Masoner. He is also in Sanglah.

Authorities are trying to trace passengers on their flight, GA 719, to check on their health.

Existing infrared sensor equipment at Ngurah Rai failed to detect any signs of infection in Ms Masoner or the boy.

Airport health chief Dr Murti Nyoman Yasa said that under nationally tightened health checks now in place at Ngurah Rai, health alert card system would  passengers arriving from declared swine flu areas, including Australia, would be compelled to complete health alert cards, and will be asked if they have any flu-like symptoms.

They will also be required to provide a telephone contact number where they can reached while in Bali.

It was not known whether Ms Masoner and the boy being tested for swine flu are related.

Minister Siti said she was “very worried” that Australians visiting Bali would spread the virus in Indonesia.

“Honestly I’m very worried about people who come from Australia,” she said at a media conference she called in Jakarta to announce the first two confirmed cases in Indonesia.

“We have to be more vigilant about Australian tourists so there won’t be more cases of H1N1 from Australia,” she said.

By midweek Australia had listed 2,873 swine flu cases, more than half of them in Melbourne and the rest of the southern state of Victoria. The country has recorded three swine flu-related deaths, all of them people with pre-existing health problems.

More than 310,000 Australians visited Bali last year, according to official figures.

Swine flu, officially A(H1N1), emerged in Mexico in April and has resulted in 238 deaths, 90 percent of them in Mexico. At last count 55,620 people in 102 countries had been infected.

The World Health Organisation declared it a pandemic disease under changed rules relating to origin and source. Previously pandemics were declared on the basis of a disease’s severity and high infection numbers.

Indonesia is the country hardest hit by the separate and much more severe H5N1 bird flu virus, with 115 dead according to official figures.

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