The Jakarta Post
The government announced Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi had tested positive for COVID-19 on Saturday but rumors that the minister was ill had been circulating for days before the announcement.
Budi, who has long suffered from asthma, had been absent from a number of events he was scheduled to attend since the beginning of the month. Prior to that, he had been on a number of work-related trips, including to Kertajati Airport in West Java and Luwu and Toraja in South Sulawesi. He was also active in the evacuation of Indonesian crew members from the virus-stricken cruise ship Diamond Princess on March 2.
On March 10, in response to reporters’ questions about Budi’s absence, Transportation Ministry spokesperson Adita Irawati said Budi was suffering from typhoid symptoms and “resting at home.”
Budi attended on March 11 a Cabinet meeting on land disputes in North Sumatra at the State Palace in Central Jakarta. The meeting was led by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.
Attendees included State Secretary Pratikno, Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, Presidential Chief of Staff Moeldoko, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD, Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani, Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil, Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar, State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir, Home Minister Tito Karnavian, Attorney General ST Burhanuddin, Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Air Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, National Police chief Gen. Idham Azis, as well as North Sumatra Governor Edy Rahmayadi and acting Medan Mayor Akhyar Nasution, among others.
Later that day, Budi also met with the Dutch minister for infrastructure and water management, Cora Van Nieuwenhuize, to discuss cooperation between Indonesia and the Netherlands in the transportation sector.
Kami juga menandatangani Joint Statement (Pernyataan Bersama). Kami sepakat untuk meningkatkan kerja sama di bidang transportasi, serta pengembangan kapasitas dan kapabilitas sumber daya manusia perhubungan. pic.twitter.com/8DhQeyOSAY— Budi Karya Sumadi (@BudiKaryaS) March 11, 2020
On Thursday, the Transportation Ministry installed a disinfectant box in front of the Karsa building at its offices in Central Jakarta. Visitors were required to enter the box to be sprayed with disinfectant and have their temperatures checked.
Budi Setyadi, the ministry’s land transportation director general, said the installation of the box was part of a trial for COVID-19 prevention measures that could be implemented at transportation hubs across the country.
On Friday, Adita once again denied rumors that Budi had been infected by the virus.
“Regarding rumors circulating about the transportation minister’s health, we hereby state that Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumad is being treated in a hospital due to typhoid and asthma, which he has suffered from for a long time,” Adita told The Jakarta Post. “Right now, the minister is in stable condition and being monitored by doctors.”
On Saturday night, after announcing that Budi had tested positive for COVID-19, Pratikno said that the health minister had “acted quickly” to anticipate the possibility of other ministers getting infected by the virus.
“We want to emphasize that many people who test positive can recover quickly,” he said. “Once the President received the information, he ordered the health minister and all his ranks to work even harder to protect the public.”
Pratikno declined, however, to say when Budi had been admitted to the hospital or when he had likely been infected.
As of Sunday morning, Indonesia has reported 96 confirmed cases of COVID-19, resulting in five deaths. Eight patients have since recovered.