One of two Indonesians who have tested positive for coronavirus in Jakarta went dancing with her Japanese friend -- now COVID-19 patient in Malaysia -- weeks before the two citizens were declared the country's first two confirmed coronavirus cases, according to authorities.
Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto detailed on Monday the chronology of the 31-year-old coronavirus patient's movement before she and her 64-year-old mother, both of whom are residents of Depok in West Java, were admitted to the isolation ward at Sulianti Saroso Infectious Diseases Hospital (RSPI Sulianti Suroso) in Jakarta.
According to the minister's account, the 31-year-old patient, who worked as a dance coach, met with the Japanese woman in a club in Jakarta, where the two were dancing together on Feb. 14.
“On Feb. 16, [the patient] coughed a lot, so she went to a hospital and returned home immediately afterward. She then asked on Feb. 26 to be hospitalized because her coughing hadn’t stopped. On Feb. 28, she received a call from her Japanese friend that [the latter] was being hospitalized in Malaysia after having tested positive for coronavirus,” Terawan said in a press conference at the RSPI on Monday afternoon.
The 41-year-old Japanese woman was Malaysia's 24th coronavirus patient, and had tested positive for coronavirus on Feb. 27 after traveling from Japan in January and to Indonesia in early February, according to the Malaysian Health Ministry on Friday.
Terawan said the 31-year-old patient and her mother -- who allegedly contracted the virus from her daughter -- had both been admitted to a private hospital where they were "treated as patients under supervision" for coronavirus concerns before the two were admitted to the RSPI and tested for COVID-19 on Sunday.
Depok mayor Mohammad Idris Abdul Shomad confirmed separately that the two residents had previously been admitted to Mitra Keluarga Hospital on Feb. 27, where they were suspected of suffering from bronchitis. The two left the hospital on Feb. 29 as they were referred to the RSPI.
“On [Sunday], we immediately conducted a thorough check-up on the women [...] The daughter is now in a good condition, she only coughs occasionally,” Terawan said after visiting the patients, adding that none of the women had complained about any shortness of breath or fever – known symptoms of COVID-19 -- while being treated at the hospital.
A statement from Case 1 obtained by The Jakarta Post on Wednesday said that she received a call not from the Japanese patient, whom she did not know, but from her friend in Malaysia who learned about the Japanese patient's contact history from Malaysian authorities.
Case 1 also said that she had attended a dance event at a restaurant in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Feb. 15, not at a club in Kemang on Feb. 14.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced earlier on Monday that two Indonesians had tested positive for COVID-19, the first two confirmed cases of the disease in the country, after Terawan reported about the tests following the government's efforts to trace the individuals who had been in contact with the Japanese patient.
Terawan said the investigation would now focus on tracking down individuals who had recently come in close contact with the confirmed COVID-19 patients, including the Japanese woman.
“We’ve been checking everything, we’re tracking our leads," Terawan said, adding that the contact tracing was particularly to find those who had had close contact with the patients.
He suggested that those who happened to have passed by the patients were not automatically in danger.
The announcement on Monday has added Indonesia to the list of coronavirus-hit countries after the archipelago has claimed zero confirmed cases for almost two months since the virus first emerged from the Chinese city of Wuhan in late December.
The global death toll from COVID-19 soared pass 3,000 on Monday as the virus has now infected more than 89,000 people and spread to more than 60 countries to date, AFP reported.
Terawan further conveyed his optimism regarding the situation in the country, saying that the Health Ministry was confident that the coronavirus could be dealt with immediately.
“Coronavirus is not an extraordinarily terrifying object. It’s the news that makes it scary,” Terawan said. (mrc/rfa)
Editor's note: This story has been updated to add the patient's statement about how she came into contact with the Japanese patient.