Tarakan, N Kalimantan (ANTARA) - Tarakan city's health office in the Indonesian province of North Kalimantan has protected its ground workers with N95 masks and medical gloves to prevent them from being infected by any passenger with suspected coronavirus symptoms.

"We have ordered our health workers directly contacting with passengers at the city's airport and seaports to wear N95 masks and medical gloves," Head of Tarakan City's Health Office-Class II Ahmad Hidayat said here on Sunday.

The health workers were also supported with an ambulance unit on standby for evacuating any passenger with suspected coronavirus symptoms to the Tarakan public hospital, he said.

As part of the precautionary measures, thermal scanners had also been installed at the seaports of Nunukan and Malundung as well as Juata Airport to screen passengers arriving from other countries, particularly the Malaysian city of Tawau.

As of Sunday, the coronavirus has claimed the lives of 56 people in China, and many other countries, including the United States of America and Canada, have announced their confirmed cases.

However, none of confirmed cases has been found in Indonesia. Apart from this reality, since the World Health Organization (WHO) issued its official statement on the outbreak of coronavirus in China, the Indonesian Government has stayed alert.

As part of its precautionary measures, thermal scanners have been installed at various airports around the archipelago for screening international passengers.

The thermal scanners are aimed at detecting any foreign tourist suffering from the symptom of this novel (new) coronavirus.

The first case of coronavirus was declared by Chinese authorities after a person with pneumonia was hospitalized in Wuhan City, Hubei Province, China, according to an official statement of the World Health Organization (WHO).

As published in its official statement on January 9, 2020, WHO revealed that the "Chinese investigators conducted gene sequencing of the virus, using an isolate from one positive patient sample."

As for the outbreak of the coronavirus, ANTARA quoted a WHO report from its official website Thursday that it was informed of a cluster of cases of pneumonia of unknown cause in Wuhan on December 31, 2019,

In addition to providing care to patients and isolating new cases as they are identified, Chinese public health officials have reported that they remain focused on continued contact tracing, conducting environmental assessments at the wholesale market, and investigations to identify the pathogen causing the outbreak.

WHO is closely monitoring this event and is in active communication with counterparts in China. In line with standard protocols for any public health event, an incident management system has been activated across the three levels of WHO (country office, regional office and headquarters) and the Organization is prepared to mount a broader response if needed.

WHO further revealed that the preliminary determination of a novel virus would assist authorities in other countries to conduct disease detection and response. Over the past week, people with symptoms of pneumonia and reported travel history to Wuhan had been identified at international airports.

"WHO does not recommend any specific measures for travelers. WHO advises against the application of any travel or trade restrictions on China based on the information currently available," it said.

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Translator: Susylo A, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Suharto
Copyright © ANTARA 2020