Arya Dipa, Bandung – The West Java administration is carrying out randomized COVID-19 screening at 54 tourist destinations across 14 regencies and municipalities to contain transmission of the coronavirus.
The screenings began on Wednesday and are to be conducted until Saturday in anticipation of a large number of travelers during the long weekend.
The destinations including famous tourist spots, such as the Lembang tourist area in West Bandung regency, Ciwidey in Bandung regency, the Ciater hot spring in Subang regency, the Puncak area in Bogor and the southern coast of West Java, which is famous for its beaches.
Visitors flocking to natural and culinary attractions and crowded spots near the tourist attractions are also screened, in addition to people at religious tourism spots, such as Kasepuhan Palace in Cirebon and the Sunan Gunung Djati sacred tomb.
West Java COVID-19 task force spokesperson Daud Ahmad said the team would use the antibody-based rapid test for the randomized screening. Visitors with a reactive result would be subjected to polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing.
"If they are subject to the swab [PCR] test, we also tell them to go home for self-isolation until the test results come out," Daud said Thursday.
The West Java Health Agency has distributed 26,700 rapid test kits and more than 14,000 viral transport devices to contain swab test samples for screening, according to medical service division head Marion Siagian.
So far, the operation has identified 50 visitors in Puncak as COVID-19-positive based on the rapid tests, prompting authorities to send them home.
Previously, West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil issued a circular on measures to prevent coronavirus transmission during public holidays and collective leave days this year, which serves as the legal basis for the operation.
Bandung Zoological Garden spokesman Sulhan Syafi'i said the attraction welcomed the provincial administration's random screening initiative.
"There haven't been any [tests in our place], only capacity and procedure examinations by the tourism agency, the Public Order Agency and subdistrict military command," he said. "If there is testing here and someone tests positive, they will be asked to leave."
Sulhan added that the zoo only allowed 1,200 visitors at a time compared to the usual 6,000. The place, which operates from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m., saw the number of guests peak at around 1,800 on one day during the pandemic.
Last week, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo reminded Cabinet members to prevent an increase in coronavirus cases during the long holiday, given that the long weekends in August had contributed to spikes of transmission in some regions. While traveling visitors are expected to boost economic activity, regional leaders in some cities and provinces have advised their residents against going on a holiday trip.
The West Java administration reported 459 new confirmed coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing the province-wide tally to 35,607 cases with 714 fatalities and more than 24,900 recoveries. On the same day, Indonesia reported 3,565 new cases, bringing the tally to 404,048. (mfp)