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Jakarta Post

Singaporean man earlier suspected of COVID-19 buried in Batam

  • Fadli

    The Jakarta Post

Batam   /   Sat, February 29, 2020   /   02:56 pm
Singaporean man earlier suspected of COVID-19 buried in Batam A man in Batam, Riau Islands, stands near the grave of a 61-year-old Singaporean man previously suspected of having contracted COVID-19 but declared to have died of another illness. (JP/Fadli)

A Singaporean man who was suspected to have contracted the novel coronavirus that causes the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) but reportedly died of “another illness” has been buried in Batam, Riau Islands, after days of uncertainty regarding his funeral.

The man, identified as 61-year-old AA, died at BP Batam Hospital, one of Indonesia’s referral hospitals for the virus, after showing symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, such as fever and shortness of breath. The Batam Health Agency, however, said he had died of “another illness” rather than COVID-19, because the patient’s test results for the virus had come back negative.

Read also: ‘The test came back negative’: Singaporean with ‘coronavirus-like symptoms’ dies in Batam

Ary Ginanjar, a caretaker at the Sambau Public Cemetery in Batam, said he had received a letter from the Bhayangkara Police Hospital in Riau Islands asking the cemetery to dig a grave for AA’s burial on Wednesday evening -- four days after AA’s death.

He described the funeral ceremony as “quiet and secretive.” The Jakarta Post only confirmed the burial on Friday.

“The funeral was attended by several police officers, AA’s wife and his two daughters,” Ary said.

He added that AA had been buried in an Islamic way, as his family wanted him to be buried without a coffin. The funeral ceremony took about one hour.

The cemetery caretaker went on to say that there was no special treatment during the burial: “It was just the usual thing. There was no request to wrap the body with plastic.”

Read also: Singapore emerges as litmus test for coronavirus containment

Batam Health Agency head Didi Kusumajadi said AA had been buried in Batam instead of Singapore due to an administration issue preventing the body from being taken to his home country.

“Singapore should not refuse their citizen. However, his family also requested for him to be buried here,” Didi told the Post on Friday.

The agency head dismissed concerns that Singapore had refused to let AA’s body be buried there because of the suspected COVID-19 infection. “The Consulate of the Republic of Singapore in Batam has tried to facilitate AA’s return to Singapore before it was decided to have him buried in Batam.”

The Singaporean consul general in Batam, Mark Low, declined to comment on the matter. (hol)