Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto has called on the public to remain calm in the face of the possible spread of the novel coronavirus, advising people to keep their body and mind pure so as to maintain immunity to avoid being infected with the fast-spreading virus, which originated in Wuhan, China.
Terawan said preventing infection was easy, namely by keeping one's immune system strong because immunity "is the enemy of viruses". There is no vaccine for the pneumonia-like ailment as yet.
"The way to confront [the virus] is with immunity [...] what influences the latter ranges from food to thoughts," Terawan said on Monday, "We can prevent [infection] as long as our immune system is good, we live a healthy life, eat on time and have breakfast. What other aspects are there besides food? Our minds."
The minister also urged the public not to panic, saying that in China, where confirmed coronavirus cases reached 2,744 on Monday, "only 2,000 of its 1.4 billion population" has fallen ill from the virus, while the rest were unaffected.
“Don’t panic, don't be anxious. Just enjoy it. Eat well, live healthily. If you have a cough use a face mask. If we just sit all day without moving, our immunity will drop. Take a 15- to 30-minute walk,” he said, "I’m sure that by not being restless, eating on time, drinking enough water and washing our hands before eating, we are facing [the phenomenon] properly."
Besides maintaining a healthy immune system, Terawan said: "Also don't forget to pray."
Although the novel coronavirus has reached neighboring countries Singapore and Malaysia as well as Australia, Terawan asserted that no confirmed cases had been found in the archipelago as of Monday.
His statement came amid calls by experts for Indonesian authorities not to maintain their business-as-usual attitude in the face of the outbreak, especially as reports of suspected cases had emerged in some local cities, including Bandung in West Java and Sorong in West Papua.
"We will confirm whether [cases] have been found here. If none are found we will announce it," Terawan said, adding that what mattered was standard procedures had been put in place to anticipate an outbreak.
As of Monday, the coronavirus had killed 81 in China and infected more than 2,700 people on four continents since it was first identified in Wuhan on Dec. 31, 2019, AFP reported.
The Chinese government has locked down at least 15 cities, including Wuhan, to contain the spread of the virus in Hubei province, where about 243 Indonesians currently live in the quarantined zone, but they are all in good condition, according to the Indonesian Foreign Ministry.
Flights between Wuhan and Indonesia have been suspended since Friday. (ami)
Editor's note: Paragraph 11 of this article has been edited.