N. Adri, Balikpapan, East Kalimantan – The nonprofit Borneo Orangutan Survival Foundation (BOSF) has closed down several facilities to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19.
BOSF chief executive officer Jamartin Sihite said he had yet to learn how the virus would affect orangutans.
"In this case, not only do we have to worry about transmission between humans, but also from humans to orangutans," he said on Tuesday.
Because of this BOSF has banned visitors at several forests such as Samboja Lestari in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, and Nyaru Menteng in Palangkaraya, Central Kalimantan. Researchers and visitors are also not allowed to enter Kehje Sewen and Bukit Batikap forests in East Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan.
"We will close them for the time being, including the information center in Nyaru Menteng, as well as Samboja Lodge in Samboja, East Kalimantan," Jamartin said.
"Even our headquarters in Bogor, West Java, is closed. Our employees are working from home." he added. Many business trips from Bogor to Samboja or Palangkaraya have been postponed as well.
Employees who are required to interact with the orangutans have to undergo temperature checks twice a day, wash hands as often as possible and wear face masks and gloves at all times.
"Every disposable item must be burned at the end of their shifts," he said, adding that the facilities would be closed for at least a month subject to later evaluation.
The foundation has been supplying the employees with vitamins to keep them healthy for the last two weeks, and preparing an emergency team for orangutans should one of them contract COVID-19.
"So far we are grateful that everyone is safe and healthy," Jamartin said. (dpk)