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Garuda grounds aircraft after passenger on Bali-Shanghai flight tested positive for COVID-19

Garuda grounds aircraft after passenger on Bali-Shanghai flight tested positive for COVID-19

Two Garuda Indonesia planes are seen at the Soekarno-Hatta airport in Tangerang near Jakarta. (File photo: AFP)

JAKARTA: Garuda Indonesia has grounded a plane that is said to have carried a Chinese passenger who has been tested positive for COVID-19.

The passenger flew from Bali to Shanghai on Jan 28 and was confirmed to have contracted COVID-19 on Feb 5.

Garuda Indonesia, the country's national carrier, is grounding the GA858 aircraft for further inspection and disinfection, it said on Thursday (Feb 13).

"(We have also) replaced the High Efficiency Particulate Arresting (HEPA) air filters in the plane ... which functions to kill viruses and bacteria in the aircraft cabin," the statement read. 

As a precaution, the carrier said it has sprayed disinfectant liquid in the cabins of its planes, especially those that have previously served Indonesia-China routes. 

The aircraft cargo area has also been disinfected, it added, with all crews undergoing health checks at the airport before and after their flights.

"We made this commitment to strengthen the anticipatory efforts to curb the spread of the virus, especially in the line of air transportation services," said Garuda Indonesia Director of Operations Tumpal M Hutapea.

The Chinese Anhui provincial authorities reportedly announced on social media last week that the patient had flown on Lion Air flight JT2618 from Wuhan – the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak – to Bali on Jan 22.

The patient stayed in Bali for about a week before flying on Garuda Indonesia flight GA858 from Bali to Shanghai on Jan 28. 

READ: Indonesians with travel history to Singapore will not be barred from returning home, says Indonesian embassy

READ: Indonesia says no need to test citizens evacuated from Wuhan for novel coronavirus as they are healthy

On Wednesday, Lion Air spokesman Danang Mandala Prihantoro said the passenger showed no symptoms while travelling from Wuhan to Bali.

The spokesman said the passenger was checked thoroughly at Bali’s airport upon arrival. All 188 passengers and 11 crew members were also screened, Lion Air added.

As of Thursday, COVID-19 has killed more than 1,300 people and infected over 60,000 people around the world.

Indonesia has no reported case of infection.


In a press conference on Thursday, a health ministry official said the authorities are working together to conduct contact tracing of the said passenger. 

"We are trying to trace the person's movement by asking Immigration Department where the person might have visited in Indonesia," Mr Achmad Yurianto, who is the secretary of the directorate-general in-charge of disease prevention and control, said.

Mr Yurianto added that the authorities are still trying to ascertain the tourist's identity. 

“Once we have it, we will find out which hotel the person was staying,” he added.

As for the other passengers on the Garuda flight, Mr Yurianto said the Indonesian authorities need to coordinate with World Health Organization if they have to reach out to people who have left Indonesian soil. 

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Source: CNA/tx


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