Indonesia: Zika travel advisory for more countries

Haeril Halim and Tama Salim, The Jakarta Post 5 Feb 15;

Following an order from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to prevent the fast-spreading Zika virus from entering the country, the Health Ministry on Thursday issued a travel advisory for Indonesians planning to go abroad, especially to Zika-affected countries.

In its most recently-updated travel advisory, the ministry encouraged Indonesians to take extra precautions should they have to visit countries most affected by the Zika virus such as Brazil, Cape Verde, Colombia, El Salvador, Honduras, Martinique, Panama and Suriname.

The government also issued travel warnings for Indonesians who wished to travel to countries considered to have “active transmission” status, namely Barbados, Bolivia, Curacao, The Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Fiji, French Guiana, Guadalope, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Mexico, New Caledonia, Nicaragua, Paraguay, Puerto Rico, Saint Martin, Samoa, Tonga, Thailand, US Virgin Islands and Venezuela.

Health Minister Nila Djuwita Anfasa Moeloek said that Indonesian travelers visiting the countries on the list must always put on long-sleeved clothing and bring with them mosquito repellent and sleep on beds that have mosquito nets.

“In addition, if they feel sick, it is highly recommended that they go to see nearby doctors right away,” Nila told reporters at the vice presidential palace on Thursday.

Nila said she encouraged pregnant women to cancel or postpone their travel plans to the affected countries until local authorities there had contained the outbreak.

“If they have no choice but to visit the countries then pregnant women should carefully guard themselves from the possibility of being bitten by mosquitoes,” Nila said.

For incoming travelers or ones who have recently arrived from the affected-countries, the ministry said that they should all should undergo a medical checkup within 14 days of their arrival.

“They should directly visit doctors if they get any indications of fever, rashes, joint and muscle pain or headaches and eye redness. Also don’t forget to inform medical officers with regard to their travel history to the affected countries,” Nila said.

Indonesia has a history of Zika infections dating back to 1981. According to several studies, Zika was found in Indonesia in 1981 and in 2005.

The Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology warned in a recent report that the virus had been spreading for some time. A Zika infection was found among 103 blood samples that the institute had taken during a dengue fever outbreak in Jambi between December 2014 and April 2015.

The fast-spreading Zika virus is likely under-diagnosed in Southeast Asia, infectious disease experts have warned in several reports.

In addition, the government has also intensified efforts to step up preventative measures by deploying more officers at ports and airports where the traffic of men and goods from abroad takes place.

Separately, Foreign Ministry spokesperson Arrmanatha Nasir confirmed the issuance of a travel warning related to the outbreak of the Zika virus in South America.

Arrmanatha said although the health ministry was in charge of issuing health-related warnings, the foreign ministry was responsible for distributing the information to Indonesian nationals abroad through its website and offices around the world.

“We will send out the information to all our offices abroad to help notify the people who might be spending their holidays in the Latin American region,” Arrmanatha told a press briefing on Thursday.

The ministry has yet to receive any information from its representatives in Brazil regarding Indonesian nationals possibly infected by the Zika virus.

“In Ecuador and several other countries we have also not received any information regarding Zika virus infections,” he said.

Data from the ministry shows that at least 345 Indonesian nationals are in Brazil, working in the service sector and as business owners, mostly in Rio de Janeiro.

The World Health Organization (WHO) says that the virus will likely spread to all countries in the Americas except for Canada and Chile.

No comments:

Post a Comment