The Jakarta Post
Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto has dismissed reports of a suspected case of a new coronavirus, which first emerged at the end of last year in the city of Wuhan in China, in Indonesia's capital Jakarta.
Terawan paid a visit to the BRI building in Jakarta on Thursday afternoon following reports that a Chinese employee of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, which has offices in the building, was suffering from fever and was taken to the hospital for diagnosis amid fears that the employee had been infected with the pneumonia-like virus.
When asked for confirmation, the minister said the employee had not been infected by the Wuhan virus.
"If he's been infected with a virus, then it might be ISPA [an acute respiratory infection], which is common among us," Terawan said.
Previously, state-owned lender BRI corporate secretary Hari Purnomo issued a statement that the employee had been sent to a nearby hospital for further examination following the detection of the fever. Hari later said the hospital had diagnosed the patient as having a sore throat.
Huawei issued a separate statement on Thursday afternoon, saying the Chinese employee was visiting the Indonesian office and that the company had sent the employee to a hospital. The company, however, said that it was still awaiting further confirmation from the hospital about whether the employee had been infected by the virus.
The Chinese company had distributed face masks to its employees, explaining that it was one of their procedures for health protection.
Following the reports, Terawan visited the building without sporting a face mask and appeared to be dismissing speculation that the virus outbreak – which has been detected in major cities of China and a number other countries – had reached the capital.
"I have proven that there was no [virus]," Terawan told reporters during his visit to the BRI building on Thursday.
Terawan called on the public to remain calm and refrain from drawing any conclusions without any proof as only the Health Ministry had the authority to make any statements on the case.
"It's in the capacity of the Health Ministry [to declare a virus outbreak or not]. I will check everything, including all entrance points to our country. We're on alert; we're not even sleeping, so keep calm because we're working to help the people. So don't worry: This will be taken care of," he said.
This latest coronavirus, which bears similarities to severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), was first detected on Dec. 31, 2019 in Wuhan. The new strain of the virus has infected more than 500 people to date, killing at least 17, AFP reported. (ars)