Passengers told to take swab tests

BALI, Indonesia,  25 May 2020: Aviation authorities confirmed at the weekend that all travellers arriving at any of its 15 airports across Indonesia would be required to undergo polymerase chain reaction (PCR) -based swab tests, effective 28 May.

Previously, travellers had to present a medical statement with attached PCR results taken within seven days of the journey that confirmed a negative result for the Covid-19 virus.

State-run airport operator Angkasa Pura I said it had already done a trial run to ensure PCR swab tests would be practical and could detect passengers carrying the virus in the airports under its management.

“We will not use rapid tests, but the PCR swab test,” said the company president told the Tempo news service last week.

Meanwhile, the Bali provincial government noted that it has made it compulsory for travellers entering Bali via Ngurah Rai International Airport and Benoa Port to undergo a swab test, following the loosening of travel restrictions by the Indonesian Transportation Ministry amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In response to the Transportation Ministry policy we cannot close ourselves off, but we can respond by having a stricter screening process in Bali,” said Bali administration regional secretary, Dewa Made Indra.

The swab test rule is likely to stay for considerable time as long as there is no cure or vaccine for Covid-19 making it a new normal for international travel possibly well into 2021.

Bali Governor Wayan Koster sent a letter to the transportation minister last week requesting that a ‘live’ swab test on arrival be made a mandatory requirement to enter the island through the airport.

“The policy was made to limit people from travelling. So, for those who have no important and urgent interest, it is better to delay their trip,” Dewa said.

Meanwhile, AirAsia Indonesia based out of Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport says it will resume domestic and limited international flights startimg 1 June.