Zika virus prevention at Jakarta airport

The Indonesian Health Ministry on Thursday (September 15) installed larvae traps around airport terminals as one of the measures to prevent the spreading of Zika virus amid outbreak in neighbouring country Singapore.

At Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, one of the busiest airports in Southeast Asia, authorities prepared about 1,000 larvae traps, placing them in the garden, arrival and departure hall, offices, toilets and all public areas across three terminals.

The trap provides an artificial ground for mosquitoes to lay eggs and the chemical in the container will kill the larvae in it. Health officials hope through this way it will effectively reduce the population of mosquitoes.

This is the latest measures carried out by the Indonesia air transport hub following a Zika outbreak in neighbouring Singapore. It enforced thermal scanning on all passengers arriving from the city state since last month.

Singapore reported its first locally-infected Zika patient on August 27 and since then, the number of reported infections has soared to more than 300. Thailand has recorded about 200 cases of Zika since January, increasing fears that Indonesia, a country of 250 million population, could be exposed to the virus.

“There are about 6,000 passengers arriving from Singapore almost everyday. We monitor and check the body temperature of arrival passengers with thermal scanners, no one so far has been detected (as a possible virus carrier). Apparently, not all of them show overheating symptoms like dengue, some of them could be suffering from fever that is under 38 degrees. So the most important thing to do is not let mosquitoes spread around the airport area, therefore we installed these larvae traps in the whole airport area,” said Susanto, health official.

The installation is part of the Indonesian government’s disease prevention programme called “3M”.

“The airport, as the entrance (to the nation), is important when it comes to protecting us from Zika. This method can help. We will continue the effort because it is part of the government’s “3M” prevention measure. This is one of the methods that is effective in eradicating the population of mosquitoes. So, I would like to reiterate that, we will advocate this method to the public as it has been proven to be an efficient technology. We will do anything we can to curb the growing of the mosquitoes,” said Oscar Primadi, head of the communication department of Health Ministry.

The Zika virus, which has spread through the Americas and the Caribbean since late last year, is generally a mild disease but is a particular risk to pregnant women. It has been linked to microcephaly – a severe birth defect in which babies are born with abnormally small heads and underdeveloped brains.


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