DFAT updates Indonesia travel advice over COVID-19 risk


Indonesia finally confirmed its first cases of COVID-19 a week ago, after the lack of cases in the country sparked international concern about its response.

Bali is Australia’s second most popular tourist destination, with thousands of holiday makers flying to and from the Indonesian island every week.

Deputy Chief Medical Officer Paul Kelly said on Saturday another infected person who had returned to Australia from Singapore had also been to Indonesia.

“It’s very difficult to tell where things have started from, but that’s certainly something we are looking at very closely,” he said.

Professor Kelly said health authorities were concerned about nations without adequate testing facilities.

“There are question marks over countries that perhaps don’t have as strong public health laboratory networks … and so, we’re keeping a close eye on neighbours to our near north,” he said.

Asked if the federal government should consider restricting travel to Australia from Indonesia, Professor Kelly said no such action was needed at this stage.

“We’re not at that point yet. There are people who go to Indonesia from Australia and have fine holidays and we’re not looking to restrict that in any way, nor to restrict people from coming from Indonesia,” Professor Kelly said.

He said Australia had “close contact” with Indonesia, which did have some laboratory testing capability.

“How much they’re using that would be a matter for the Indonesian government. We’ve offered support and will continue to offer support and assistance in regard to that,” Professor Kelly said. “I know that the World Health Organisation has also done the same through their country office and so we’ll be continuing to monitor that situation very closely.”

Foreign Minister Marise Payne has previously said the Australian government made additional testing kits available to its regional neighbours but it was up to them to request the kits.

The woman confirmed to have COVID-19 in Victoria flew from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta to Perth on February 27 and arrived in Melbourne last Monday before testing positive for the disease on Saturday night.

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