Bali coronavirus warning: What to do if planning a trip
Aussies are being warned to ditch hotel doonas and avoid water ceremonies following the quarantining of 17 foreign tourists suspected of having coronavirus.
Ten tourists and two Indonesians are isolated in four hospitals and another seven holiday makers on lock down in their hotels.
Nine of the 17 tourists were exposed to the killer coronavirus on an Emirates flight EK450 from Dubai to Bali when they sat near New Zealand's patient zero who is now in treatment in New Zealand.
Two Japanese travellers from the flight were taken to Bali's regional Kapal Hospital and treated for a fever then transferred tropical island's major hospital - Sanglah in Denpasar.
No Australians are included in the round up.
Until this week Indonesia, with a population of 270 million people, had claimed to be free of coronavirus, although this was met with scepticism by the international medical community.
Doubt, however, has been cast on the ability to deal with any major outbreak of the virus given the small number of isolation rooms.
In January, before the bans, there were 113,745 Chinese tourists visiting Bali and 106,000 Australians out of a total of 590,269 foreign tourists.
Bali Tourism Agency chief, Putu Astawa, said that in February the number of tourists fell to just 392,824, lead by 83,389 Australians.
Risk expert Richard Flax, founder of International Global Health (IGH) insurance company in Indonesia, said precautions such as removing the bedspread from hotel beds will help to minimise exposure to the virus.
Hotels worldwide do not routinely wash doona covers between guests.
Mr Flax advised: "Remove the bed cover and turn the airconditioning to a higher temperature and sleep under the fresh sheets only."
He warned that the virus travels in water so traditional Balinese water ceremonies that take place in communal baths are out.
Small restaurants use people to wash dishes rather than using dishwashers. Street food vendors and local cafes do a cursory swish of plates, glasses and cutlery under a tap or in a bucket of water.
"Bring your own knife and fork and wash it where you are staying. Also bring your own yoga mat or face mask and snorkel for water sports," Mr Flax said.
Bali Health Service (BHS) has demanded hotels, restaurants, the airport and maritime ports, and hospitals to carry out a full disinfection today (Saturday).
"Good quality hotels are well aware of the situation and have initiated protocols to
limit the spread of the virus. Staying in a private villa and eating there is another way
to limit exposure."
Bali has unique potential for infection with Aussies regularly visiting traditional healers, playing sports and enjoying the holiday lifestyle.
Dr Monica Suardarma recommends avoiding ancient medicine men who often chew
mouthfuls of herbs and spit them directly on the ailing body part.
"Coronavirus could easily be transmitted from a Balian (healer) particularly if he has
been exposed to Chinese tourists. Karaoke clubs should also be avoided," she said.
If you plan to travel to Bali bring disinfectant wipes and use freely on everything from
toilets seats, door handles to shopping trolley handles and car doors.
A new study by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in the US,
which publishes high-impact scientific research, found that the 11 people seated
nearest to a Covid 19 infected passenger in an aircraft have an 80 per cent chance
Despite zero confirmed cases of Covid 19, the Bali Heath Service is set to add 35
isolation spaces in three hospitals.
"For a contingency plans, we have also prepared 50 hospital beds at Udayana University and Bali Mandara hospital," said the head of Bali Health Service, Mr Ketut Suarjaya.
The action comes days after Indonesia's President Joko Widodo confirmed two cases of the disease in West Java.
Throughout Bali hand sanitiser and face masks have virtually disappeared from supermarket shelves and police are taking action against businesses that are price gouging or hoarding masks to sell to Brunei.
The virus has turned parts of Bali looks into ghost towns with tourism down by a third, including cancellations of business travel and conferences, restaurant seats remain empty and poolside sun lounges are bereft of users.
The March performance by New York's prestigious classical music ensemble - the IBLA Foundation - which has close ties to Italy has been postponed.
Indonesia responded to the outbreak in early February when it cancelled all flights from China indefinitely.