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Jakarta Post

Health Ministry declares 68 of 70 patient samples negative for coronavirus

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, February 13, 2020   /   11:13 am
Health Ministry declares 68 of 70 patient samples negative for coronavirus Medical personnel wearing sterile clothing when entering the Laboratory of the Health Research and Development Agency (Balitbangkes) in Jakarta, Tuesday (02/11/2020). (Antara/Galih Pradipta)

The Health Ministry’s research and development agency has examined 68 out of 70 samples from patients suspected of being infected by the Wuhan coronavirus, now called COVID-19 by the World Health Organization. All 68 specimens tested negative, according to a ministry official.

“The other two samples are still being tested,” the Health Ministry’s surveillance and quarantine director, Vensya Sitohang, said on Wednesday.

Based on the results, Vensya emphasized that there were no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Indonesia to date. 

She also guaranteed that all testing followed WHO standards, saying that each test took two to three days to complete.

“We hope there will be no more suspected cases; no more people should be examined for having similar symptoms to the new coronavirus.”

Read also: Climate, immunity, incompetence? Indonesia's zero recorded coronavirus cases raise questions

COVID-19, which is believed to have originated in a market selling wild animals in Wuhan, China, has killed 1,113 in the mainland and infected more than 44,600 people as of Wednesday, AFP reported.

Indonesia continues to insist that it has no confirmed coronavirus cases despite positive diagnoses found in neighboring Singapore, Malaysia and Australia, raising concerns among scientists worldwide that the virus might be spreading in the country undetected.

A study conducted by researchers from Harvard University found that Indonesia should have already confirmed at least one to 10 cases of the new coronavirus, given the high average daily air-travel volume from Wuhan to the country.

The Harvard study stated that Indonesia's zero confirmed cases "may suggest the potential for undetected cases in these locations given the expected connection before travel control measures were implemented”.

The ministry’s research and development agency head, Siswanto, played down the report on Tuesday, saying that the study was based only on mathematical calculations to predict the spread of the virus, so it might not reflect the facts. (syk)