North Sumatra to keep Nias Island open to visitors with negative COVID-19 test certificate

North Sumatra to keep Nias Island open to visitors with negative COVID-19 test certificate

Terbaiknews - Young people showcase a stone-jumping performance in Bawomataluo villageSouth Nias regencyNorth Sumatraon July 25. 2017. The performance is among the tourist attractions on the island. (JP/Nurni Sulaiman)

The North Sumatra administration has canceled its plan to suspend all air and sea travel to and from Nias Island to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in the popular tourist destination.

North Sumatra Governor Edy Rahmayadi said although access to air and sea transportation would remain open, entrance points would be closely guarded by integrated posts.

In addition, the province will oblige people leaving for Nias to carry a COVID-19-free certificate and undergo self-isolation for two weeks after arriving on the island.

“These posts will monitor people arriving by land, air or sea. Those who come to Nias have to show a negative COVID-19 swab test certificate to the postal officers, who will direct them for isolation,” Edy told reporters on Tuesday.

Health workers and security officers would be exempt from this provision, he added.

Edy said the provincial administration would distribute logistical assistance to visitors under self-isolation.

Read also: North Sumatra to restrict access to Nias Island following surge in COVID-19 cases

Edy announced the 14-day lockdown plan after a meeting with Coordinating Maritime and Investment Minister Luhut B. Pandjaitan on Monday. The coordinating minister, however, did not give permission immediately.

Gunungsitoli Legislative Council (DPRD) chairman Yanto disagreed with the governor’s plan, arguing it was not the main solution in breaking the chain of COVID-19 transmission.

“COVID-19 already exists on Nias Island, and it is spreading rather fast. What the provincial administration needs to do now is to multiply swab tests instead of isolating [the region],” Yanto said on Wednesday.

Yanto claimed that hundreds of people were now waiting to get tested amid limited testing equipment. In such circumstances, he added, hospitals on Nias Island were forced to send swab samples to Medan city.

The Nias COVID-19 task force said the island had zero confirmed cases last month, before being infected recently, with more than 90 people testing positive for the coronavirus so far. (syk)