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Jakarta Post

As number of coronavirus infections grow globally, Indonesia claims zero cases so far

  • Jon Afrizal, Apriadi Gunawan and N. Adri

    The Jakarta Post

Jambi, Medan and Balikpapan   /   Wed, January 29, 2020   /   08:45 am
As number of coronavirus infections grow globally, Indonesia claims zero cases so far The public visits the Ministry of Health Ministry building in Jakarta on Tuesday. The ministry has prepared 100 hospitals that have been designated as a reference for emerging diseases, especially a new type of coronavirus from China. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

As cases of infection and deaths from the coronavirus originating from the Chinese city of Wuhan hit a new high, Indonesia was still reporting no confirmed cases by Tuesday, although suspected cases continued to be recorded across the archipelago.

At least eight patients across the country — two in Bandung, West Java, one in Sorong, West Papua, one in Sidoarjo, East Java and four in Central Java — were still under observation after being admitted to hospitals for suspected coronavirus infection as of Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Indonesian authorities claimed that so far, at least 12 patients — mostly tourists from China — were clear of the coronavirus after being suspected of getting infected.

One such patient was WDZ, 26, who was admitted to Raden Mattaher Hospital in Jambi on Saturday and had been receiving treatment in the hospital's isolation room as she showed signs of breathing difficulties and a fever. She was in Wuhan — the epicenter of the coronavirus — from Dec. 20 to 27, 2019.

Medianto, one of two lung specialists on the case, said that the patient, who was in stable condition as of Monday, was only suffering from a respiratory ailment. He added that her phlegm sample would be sent to the Health Ministry’s laboratory.

Raden Mattaher Hospital service deputy director Dewi Lestari said the hospital has prepared an isolation room that could hold up to three patients suspected to have contracted the coronavirus for observation. "We are only treating their clinical conditions," she said.

Health Ministry expert staffer Kuwat Sri Hudoyo confirmed on Tuesday that Jambi province was, therefore, still free of the virus.

"Coronavirus is not our enemy. Our current enemy is information that makes the public anxious," Kuwat said in Jambi city on Tuesday.

Read also: [UPDATED]: Suspected Wuhan coronavirus in Indonesia: What we know so far

The new strain of coronavirus, which attack the person's respiratory system as the virus bears similarities to the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), has killed 107 people in China and infected almost 4,500 people globally to date, according to the Johns Hopkins Center for Systems Sciences and Engineering.

Indonesia's neighboring countries have reported confirmed coronavirus infection cases: Thailand reported eight, Australia and Singapore reported five each, Malaysia reported four, Vietnam two and Cambodia one, Reuters reported.

North Sumatra Governor Edy Rahmayadi said on Tuesday that the province was still safe from the coronavirus.

"Thank God, we are still safe from that virus spread. To anticipate it, we must move fast to create a team to coordinate, especially on North Sumatra ports of entry, such as airports, where we must increase security," Edy said.

He called for the province's residents to remain calm and not to trust unverified news about the coronavirus. "People should not be worried. The government will provide prevention steps so we will not be infected by the deadly virus."

The head of the North Sumatra Health Agency, Alwi Mujahit Hasibuan, said that the agency — similar to authorities in provinces across the country — was currently focused on supervising foreigners in the province, especially those coming from China, by using thermal scanners and microbolometers that can measure small particulates by detecting infrared radiation.

Alwi said that with the two devices authorities would be able to detect those infected by the virus.

Bahrullah, an official of the Tunin Taka Port health office (KKP) in Nunukan, North Kalimantan, said that so far no one who had entered the port had been detected or indicated having contracted the virus.

Read also: Experts warn against complacency as Indonesia reports zero cases of coronavirus

Authorities have installed thermal scanners at the port — which is commonly used by travelers to cross to and from Tawau city in Sabah, Malaysia — to detect anyone with a body temperature of more than 37 degrees Celsius to be treated by health officers.

"We are checking everyone, Indonesians and foreigners, who arrived at this Tunon Taka Port using the thermal scanner," Bahrullah said.

In Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, similar procedures are also being done at the Sepinggan Airport where international flight passengers must pass by a special area to be scanned using a thermal scanner.

"Inside the airplanes, passengers must file [health statement] forms and in the airport they must pass by a thermal scanner. If there is a suspect we will follow it up. Currently, the Kanunoso Djatibowo hospital is ready for that," Balikpapan Health Agency head Andi Sri Juliarty said.

All health workers were also required to wear N95 masks to protect their respiratory systems.

Balikpapan deputy mayor Rizal Effendi also advised residents to refrain from going abroad in the meantime, especially to China, because some countries like Singapore, Malaysia and Australia have also reported confirmed cases of the coronavirus.

Indonesia issued on Tuesday a travel warning for citizens intending to visit China's Hubei province, where currently at least 13 cities, including Wuhan, are in lockdown as Chinese authorities attempt to contain the viral outbreak. 

According to the Foreign Ministry, 243 Indonesians currently live in the quarantined zone; all are in good condition so far. (ami)