Lawmakers have urged the government to bolster interinstitutional coordination to improve the detection of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases across the country, given that a number of patients seem to have slipped under its radar only to be identified later beyond the country’s borders.
A 65-year-old Indonesian man referred to as Case 152 in Singapore arrived in the city state on Saturday after having reported symptoms the week before and sought treatment at a hospital in Jakarta on March 2. He visited Singapore General Hospital on Friday and tested positive on Saturday.
Meanwhile, a 64-year-old Indonesian man referred to as Case 147 arrived in Singapore on Saturday and tested positive for the virus on Sunday. Singapore’s Ministry of Health identified both cases as imported cases, meaning they likely contracted the virus before arriving in Singapore.
A 50-year-old Indonesian woman also recently tested positive in Australia after arriving there from Jakarta, but the Indonesian Health Ministry has said it believes she had not contracted the virus in Indonesia.
National Mandate Party (PAN) politician Saleh Daulay called on the government to ensure that every ministry, local administration, agency and health center maintain a constant line of communication with one another to improve the identification of COVID-19 cases as the country was still in the early stage of a health emergency.
“We urge the government to come up with new ideas so that suspected and confirmed cases may be swiftly treated. This may be done by bolstering coordination between ministries, agencies and hospitals. Such an effort would be beneficial for the contact-tracing process,” he told The Jakarta Post over the phone on Tuesday, adding that interagency coordination remained lackluster even amid coronavirus concerns.
He went on to say that the government had to ensure that all 132 hospitals designated as referral centers for COVID-19 cases across the country were properly equipped to treat patients.
“Not only do we need to ensure the treatment of patients but we must also consider the safety of health workers. This is why we need to make sure that every referral center is equipped with an adequate supply of protective gear,” Saleh said.
Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) politician Netty Prasetiyani shared Saleh’s concerns, saying it was imperative that the government improve vertical and horizontal communication channels in its battle against the virus.
“The recent detection of COVID-19 patients in Singapore may well serve as a reminder for the government to heighten its alertness at home,” she told the Post. “Make sure that every hospital and health center as well as related agencies and departments are well-coordinated to immediately report suspected coronavirus cases.”
The Indonesian Embassy in Singapore has again recently urged Indonesian citizens who are in Singapore or planning to visit to be vigilant and to follow the rules and instructions from the city-state authorities, who recently announced that all visitors seeking treatment for COVID-19 would need to pay for their treatment.
"The Indonesian Embassy in Singapore would like to again remind all Indonesian citizens in Singapore and Indonesian citizens planning to visit Singapore that the [Disease Outbreak Response System Condition] Orange status still applies in Singapore to overcome COVID-19, so high vigilance is still needed,” the embassy said in a statement.
Treatment of severe respiratory infections at public hospitals in Singapore typically costs between S$6,000 and $8,000 (US$4,300-5,800), according to the Ministry of Health's website.
“We expect that all Indonesian citizens follow the [rules of] Singapore authorities on handling the spread of COVID-19, such as maintaining personal health and hygiene, periodically washing hands after activities in public spaces, avoiding crowded places and events when not urgent and immediately seeing a doctor if you experience symptoms,” the embassy said in a statement.
The Indonesian Health Ministry’s disease control and prevention director general, Achmad Yurianto, was not immediately available for comment when contacted by the Post.