Indonesia's death toll from the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 jumped to 19 on Wednesday, the highest in Southeast Asia to date, as the government announced that the number of infected people had reached 227.
Health Ministry Disease Control and Prevention Director General Achmad Yurianto said most deaths had been recorded in Jakarta with 12 fatalities, followed by Central Java with two fatalities, while Banten, Bali, West Java, East Java and North Sumatra each reported one fatality from the disease.
Yurianto said the death toll had soared from the reported five on the previous day because several hospitals had failed to submit their fatality reports from March 12 to March 17 and the government had only managed to obtain the updated data on Wednesday morning.
"The total number of [COVID-19] patients who have died from the disease as of 12 p.m. of March 18 is 19," Yurianto told the press on Wednesday afternoon.
The 19 fatalities mean that Indonesia has now recorded the highest death toll among Southeast Asian countries hit by the coronavirus to date.
As of Tuesday, Malaysia had recorded the most COVID-19 infections among ASEAN member states with 673 confirmed cases, but only recorded two deaths. Philippines recorded 14 fatalities, with 187 cases of infection, while Thailand recorded one death with 177 confirmed coronavirus cases. Singapore, meanwhile, recorded 266 cases of infection but no fatalities as of Tuesday.
Indonesia also reported 55 new confirmed cases of infection on Wednesday, with Yurianto saying that most of them were reported in Jakarta with 30 cases, followed by West Java with 12 cases, Banten with four cases, and Central Java with two cases.
Yogyakarta, North Sumatra, Lampung, Riau and East Kalimantan have reported one new COVID-19 case each while independent epidemiology tests found two positive cases.
“But despite the increasing number of confirmed cases, we can also confirm that 11 people have recovered from the disease and hospitals have allowed them to go home,” he said.
He further urged the public not to panic about the situation since the skyrocketing number of confirmed cases was because more people were aware about the disease and the government had also been active in conducting contact tracing.
Yurianto described the situation as “normal” compared with other countries.
“The number of confirmed cases has dramatically increased because we are just entering the first phase of the contagion. We hope that everything will be under control and therefore new confirmed cases per day will gradually subside in April,” he added. (glh)