Authorities in Anhui province, China, have reported that a Chinese national who visited Bali late last month has tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as Indonesian authorities scramble to verify the information on Wednesday.
The administration announced via Weibo on Feb. 6 that the Huainan Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported on Feb. 5 that a patient, identified only as Jin, flew on Lion Air flight JT2618 from Wuhan – the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak – to Bali on Jan. 22. The patient stayed on the island for about a week before flying on Garuda Indonesia flight GA858 from Bali to Shanghai on Jan. 28.
The patient was found to have been infected with the virus that causes the disease on Feb. 5 by Huainan CDC according to the Weibo post.
“For passengers on the aforementioned flights, please enact preventative measures immediately,” wrote the Anhui administration on its Weibo account, which is a local version of Twitter.
"Please don't go out for a while and if you get a fever, go to the nearest hospital," the statement said. "Please use masks when you travel to the medical center and don't use public transportation," it went on.
Garuda Indonesia spokesman Dicky Irchamsyah said he had not yet received a report about the case but “will check up on it.” Lion Air spokesman Danang Mandala separately said he would also look into the case.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry’s disease control and environmental health director general, Anung Sugihantono, said his office had not yet received the information and was still “confirming it" but he was quick to say that it was "a rumor".
The ministry advises regular washing of hands, avoiding uncooked meat and wearing face masks when sick to minimize the chances of contracting the disease. The regulatory body also has two hotlines for more information: 021-5210-411 and 0812-1212-3119.
The Post's verification
The Post first obtained the information about the Anhui administration’s statement from a Chinese citizen who sent a letter to us on Wednesday. The citizen provided two links: one was the Weibo post and the other was a search page for "Epidemic situation, public transportation epidemic inquiry".
We asked two Chinese journalists from two respected media in China to check whether the links are official or not and both confirmed that the links are official.
The Chinese citizen who first informed us about the alert from the Anhui provincial authorities provided an English translation of the Weibo post and we also asked an Indonesian journalist friend who understands Chinese to translate it into Indonesian.
The Post also ran a search with keyword "GA858" on the public transportation history site and found a result dated Jan. 28 that contained a link to the Weibo post from Anhui. We also searched the site with the keyword "JT2618" but it did not show any result.
The Post tried to contact the Anhui and Huainan CDC offices on Wednesday to find more information about the patient but our calls were not answered. Indonesian Ambassador to China Djauhari Oratmangun told the Post he had yet to receive any information about the matter but he would find out more information.