Earlier this week the Flores Mission gave us an update on the effects of COVID-19 on the town and mission community at Labuan Bajo, Flores. The town is currently in almost full lock-down with the closure of all schools, hotels, government non-essential services and non-essential shopping. Just a few supermarkets are open with all open-air markets and restaurants closed. To date, there are a suspected 24 cases of COVID-19 in the town with one fatality thus far. The diagnoses of all cases are all symptomatically based with no formal testing available. Downtown, all hostels, B & Bs and hotels are closed, with some tourists still locked down with no return flights available. Flights into Labuan Bajo are restricted to cargo planes.
The images below indicate just how different the town is now compared to how it has been for the last 10 years, a bustling and busy tourist town. It is so quiet now!
At the mission, the apostolate, which houses the special needs boys, which is at the back of the property, is now in quarantine with access strictly limited. These residents are highly vulnerable to infections such as COVID-19, so it is very worrying. The brothers at the mission are experiencing limited supplies of basic items such as soap, handwash and even food.
The mission superior, Br Prisca is currently in Haiti, having gone home several months ago to renew his passport, and now cannot return to Labuan Bajo due to travel restrictions and the absence of flights. We pray that the spread of the virus is halted, and the people of Flores remain safe and relatively free of the spread of COVID-19, which if left unchecked, could have a very damaging effect on the island and its many poor people.
Keep safe during this difficult time
Trevor and Tina
These traffic lights are normally jammed
Busy top road
An abundance of tourist boats moored
Tourist hostel and bar – normally bustling with activity
The new shops near the marina
Where is the traffic?
Long, lonely highway
Restaurants along the strand – being in solitude is the new norm