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Indonesia tests Bali tourists to halt deadly Nipah virus

Australian travellers landing in Bali can expect airport medical tests as Indonesia implements rigorous measures to stop the potential spread of a deadly virus.

The rare Nipah virus — which originates from bats and pigs— has infected at least five people in Kerala, India, and killed two.

While the virus has not been found in Indonesia, Bali welcomes large numbers of Indian visitors, prompting local health authorities to implement measures to hopefully prevent the spread. 

“In accordance with the Ministry of Health’s directive, we must remain vigilant regarding the Nipah virus threat,” the head of the Bali Provincial Health Service, I Nyoman Gede Anom was quoted as saying by Indonesian media. 

Indian nationals make up the second largest contingent of international tourists after Australians, with data from the Bali Provincial Tourism Office recording a total of 288,873 visitors from January to August 2023.

Airport testing

Australian travellers landing in Bali are warned to expect additional health screenings including a mandatory temperature check upon arrival.

People recording a high temperature or those who have travelled from where the Nipah virus is present will be taken directly to hospital for assessment.

“Specifically for the Nipah virus, a team of neurologists, internal surgeons and so on has been prepared, because this virus attacks the brain,” Mr Anom said.

The World Health Organisation says there are no drugs or vaccines to treat the virus, which has a fatality rate between 40 and 75 per cent.

Bali

Source: The Jenner Institute

Symptoms

Nipah is thought to be transmitted to humans from animals (including bats or pigs), from contaminated foods or directly from human-to-human via bodily fluids.

While people infected with the Nipah virus have been known to display no adverse symptoms, the signs of the virus generally include fever, headaches, vomiting, muscle pain and a sore throat.

In extreme cases, severe respiratory problems and seizures may induce a coma.

The Australian Department of Agriculture and Industry says Australia is free of Nipah virus, “however, an incursion of this virus would have serious consequences for both animal and human health”.

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