Palembang, S Sumatra (ANTARA) - Several hoteliers in Palembang, the capital of South Sumatra Province, are considering closing shop temporarily due to poor occupancy rates over the past three months in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak.

"So far, there are no hotels in Palembang which have ceased operations," head of South Sumatra Province's Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), Herlan Aspiudin, told journalists on Monday in Palembang.

However, if the occupancy rates, which have plunged significantly over the past three months, remain low, several hoteliers will close their business temporarily, he declared.

Occupancy rates have dropped due to the postponement of several MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences and exhibitions) programs and travel packages as well as the local authorities’ decision to declare an emergency status following the recent death of a local resident, Aspiudin said.

"The occupancy rates have plunged sharply. As a result, there is an imbalance between revenue and operational costs. This has really affected the sustainability of the hoteliers' businesses," he noted.

Several hoteliers have taken necessary measures to survive the slowdown in business, including sending some employees home, he added.

COVID-19, which initially struck the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of December, 2019, has been declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization (WHO).

As of 9.50 a.m. Western Indonesia Time (WIB) on March 30, there were 721,817 COVID-19 patients worldwide, while the number of fatalities stood at 33,968, according to the Johns Hopkins University's Corona Resource Center.

While the United States has reported the most infections (142,326), Italy has seen the highest number of deaths (10,779).

In Indonesia, there have been 1,285 confirmed cases and 114 fatalities so far, with Jakarta continuing to report the highest number of infections and deaths.

To tackle the current crisis, Indonesia needs an additional 1,500 doctors, including pulmonologists and anesthetists, and 2,500 nurses to help health workers on the frontline of the fight against COVID-19, according to coordinator of the Volunteer Task Force for Accelerating the Handling of COVID-19, Andre Rahadian.

The task force has created a microsite on the official website of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) where volunteers can register for the humanitarian mission against COVID-19, he stated during a recent press conference in Jakarta. (INE)

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Translator: Yudi A, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Suharto
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