New Zealand and Malaysian authorities reported on Friday that their latest patients infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus had been to Indonesia before getting sick in their respective countries.
Malaysia confirmed its 24th coronavirus case on Friday, declaring that a 41-year-old Japanese woman working in Malaysia who had traveled to Japan in January and to Indonesia in early February had tested positive.
The ministry’s directorate-general of health said in a press release on its website that the woman was one of two new cases confirmed on Friday, resulting in a total of 25 COVID-19 cases in the country to date.
“The patient had fever symptoms and had received treatment on Feb. 17. She was admitted to a private hospital on Feb. 20 and confirmed positive on Feb. 27 after taking a COVID-19 detection test. She is currently being treated in an isolation ward at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital,” the report stated.
However, the exact date she traveled to Indonesia and what city she went to remain unclear.
Also on Friday, New Zealand confirmed its first coronavirus case of a female citizen in her 60s who traveled from Tehran in Iran to Auckland via Bali.
Read also: New Zealand confirms first coronavirus case
Through its Twitter account, the New Zealand Health Ministry urged any passengers on Emirates flight EK450 on Feb. 26 from Dubai to Bali to Auckland to immediately contact authorities if they were concerned.
“Anyone who was on the final leg of the flight, Emirates EK450 arriving Auckland on Wednesday 26 February and who is concerned should contact the COVID-19 Healthline number 0800 358 5453,” the ministry said.
Work has begun to trace the patient’s other close contacts including those on the flight which originated in Tehran via Bali. The person arrived in Auckland on 26 Feb and traveled home in a private car. Their family became concerned about their condition and called Healthline.— Ministry of Health - Manatū Hauora (@minhealthnz) February 28, 2020
These two cases in Malaysia and New Zealand added to a previous two reports of COVID-19 cases outside Indonesia in which the patients had visited Indonesia before being declared positive in other countries.
Earlier, health authorities in Anhui province, China, reported that a Chinese national identified as Jin, who had visited Bali late last month, tested positive for the coronavirus disease.
The patient flew on Lion Air from Wuhan, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak, to Bali on Jan. 22 and stayed on the island for about a week before flying on Garuda Indonesia from Bali to Shanghai on Jan. 28.
Meanwhile, Japanese public broadcaster NHK previously reported that a Tokyo resident in his 60s tested positive for COVID-19 shortly after returning from a visit to Indonesia.
The man, a staff member of a senior care facility, reportedly traveled to Indonesia for a family vacation on Feb. 15 and was hospitalized upon his return to Japan on Feb. 19 for severe breathing difficulties.
In a recent interview with The Jakarta Post, Samsuridjal Djauzi, an immunology expert at Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital, said that patients who tested positive for the coronavirus after visiting Indonesia did not necessarily get infected in Indonesia.
He said, however, there was a possibility they had transmitted the virus to others while in Indonesia. “On the other hand, there is a possibility they would not, as well. Infection needs a certain situation. How many virus particles are there? How strong are they? How close is the contact?” he said. “You cannot say: Oh, they visited Indonesia and they will certainly spread the virus to other people. No, it’s not always the case,” he said.