The Jakarta Post
The Batam administration in Riau Islands has quarantined 15 locals who were identified as having close contact with three Singaporean residents who tested positive for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) after visiting the city.
On Sunday, Singapore’s Health Ministry announced that three people, two Singaporean citizens and one Myanmar national, had tested positive for the disease after visiting Batam from Feb. 21 to Feb. 23.
Riau Islands Health Agency head Tjeptjep Yudiana said the agency had been notified by Singapore health authorities regarding the three cases, who have been identified only as Case 101, Case 103 and Case 104.
“We’ve found the people who were in close contact with the Singaporean residents yesterday. They will be observed for a week,” Tjeptjep said during a press conference on Monday.
He said that according to the notification, Case 103, a 37-year-old Singaporean woman, visited a property she owned in Batam on Feb. 20 and returned to Singapore on the 23rd.
Her husband and two children, as well as her assistant - a 25-year-old Myanmar woman identified as Case 104 - went on to visit her in Batam on the 21st.
Three days after her return from Batam, Case 103 and 104 were put under home quarantine as they had been in close contact with a 38-year-old male Singaporean who tested positive for COVID-19, identified as Case 93. The two women themselves tested positive on Sunday.
“To follow up on the notification, we traced back the Singaporeans’ steps – the locations they visited and the people they interacted with during their time in Batam. They met with around 100 people. But for now we’ve only put 11 of them under observation at the Haj Dormitory, and four others in their homes. The administration will tend to their needs,” Tjeptjep said.
Those currently being quarantined have been identified as 33-year-old P, along with his wife and two children, and 39-year-old CSS, along with 10 of her relatives and close acquaintances. P acted as Case 103’s driver during the Singaporean’s visit, while CSS worked as her domestic helper.
“We ask the public to remain calm because we have them under observation,” Tjeptjep said.
He went on to say that the agency had also coordinated with the local police to track down the ferry that had carried the three people to Batam.
“We’re now actively searching for fellow ferry passengers,” he said, adding that the ferry manifest showed 26 Indonesian passengers and 82 foreigners.
Tjeptjep added that the 15 people under observation had appeared healthy and that the agency had sent their samples for testing at the Health Ministry’s laboratory in Jakarta.
“Even if they test negative [for coronavirus], they will still be observed for a week,” he said.
Batam Port’s Health Office head Achmad Farchanny said the thermal scanners that had been installed at the entrance to the region did not detect any signs that showed VP or her family had carried the virus when they crossed over to Batam.
The management will bolster safety and security measures at every port in the region, making it mandatory for ferry passengers to fill out health alert cards accurately, he said.
“If they don’t fill out the cards, they won’t be able to pass through immigration. It’s mandatory; they have to be filled out truthfully,” he added.
Cases 101, 103 and 104 are the latest of seven cases in which patients tested positive for COVID-19 after visiting Indonesia. Previously, four other patients – in China, Japan, New Zealand and Malaysia – tested positive shortly after returning from Indonesia.
Earlier on Monday, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced that two Indonesians had tested positive for COVID-19, the first two confirmed cases of the disease in the country.
Jokowi said that the two people, a 64-year-old and her 31-year-old daughter, had been in contact with a Japanese citizen who tested positive in Malaysia on Feb. 27 after visiting Indonesia in early February. (rfa)