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Indonesia stepping up measures to prevent MERS

Indonesia is stepping up measures to prevent the deadly MERS virus from entering the country. Thermal scanners have been activated in 13 international airports and pilgrims returning from the Middle East must undergo health checks.

JAKARTA: Amid reports of more potential infections, Indonesia is stepping up measures to prevent the deadly MERS-CoV virus from entering the country.

Thermal scanners have been activated in 13 international airports across the country and pilgrims returning home from the Middle East must undergo health checks.

Pilgrims returning home from umrah must fill in a health alert card before they are inspected on arrival.

Four people in Saudi Arabia have died in recent days after contracting the virus, which is believed to originate in camels and has no vaccine.

Professor Dr Agus Purwadianto, acting director general of Disease Control and Public Health, said: "Those who are at high risk of MERS-CoV will pass through a thermal body scanner, and if there are indications of the disease, then they must pass through a body cleanser, which is an automated machine that cleanses bodies of germs."

Since January, a total of 47 suspected MERS-CoV cases have been detected in Indonesia, across 13 provinces.

Test results in 36 cases have returned negative, while 11 others are still being examined.

While so far no patient has returned a positive reading, health authorities especially in hospitals where past cases of bird flu were treated, are not taking chances and are on stand-by.

On Wednesday, a 55-year-old man in Denpasar, Bali, died in hospital, but health authorities said his test results came back negative for the deadly virus.

There is growing concern more cases will appear, as the number of umrah pilgrims usually increase by 150,000 each month ahead of the holy month of Ramadan, beginning the end of June.


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