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Jakarta Post

China reports imported COVID-19 case from Indonesia

  • Budi Sutrisno

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, March 19, 2020   /   11:41 am
China reports imported COVID-19 case from Indonesia Staff in protective suits accompany passengers outside a centralized facility for screening and registration near the Beijing Capital International Airport in Beijing as the country is hit by an outbreak of the novel coronavirus, China, March 17, 2020. (REUTERS/Thomas Peter)

China has announced an imported COVID-19 case from Indonesia, a 35-year-old Chinese national identified as Zhang, who had developed symptoms in the archipelago last week before being diagnosed upon his return to Shaanxi province.

The Shaanxi Health Commission announced on its website on Tuesday that Zhang was the province’s first imported case. He reportedly developed a cough and fever on March 10 during his stay in Indonesia.

However, which city in Indonesia he visited and how he became infected remain unclear.

The report said Zhang took Dragon Air flight KA896 from Indonesia to Shanghai via Hong Kong on March 13 and stayed at the Vienna International Hotel in Shanghai that night.

The next day, Zhang traveled by car to Shanghai Pudong International Airport at 2 p.m. local time, departed on China Eastern flight MU2162 at around 5 p.m. and arrived at the Xi’an Xianyang International Airport in Shaanxi at 7:45 p.m.

Upon arriving in Xi'an, Zhang informed airport staff of his physical discomfort. As he showed a high temperature, he was sent to the Xi'an Central Hospital at midnight.

Read also: COVID-19: Indonesia records highest death toll in Southeast Asia at 19

Early Sunday morning, the Xi’an Center for Disease Control (CDC) conducted a nucleic acid and serological tests on him. The nucleic acid test was inconclusive, while the serological test came out negative.

A second nucleic acid test done the next day came out positive. Zhang also went through an examination of clinical symptoms, blood tests, imaging tests and expert consultation before being diagnosed as a confirmed case.

He was immediately transferred to the Xi'an Eighth Hospital for isolation and treatment.

Authorities have isolated Zhang’s close contacts in China for medical observation. The Shaanxi Health Department said there were 80 new close contacts in the province, of which 79 were linked to Zhang.

A patient (L) infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus receives acupuncture treatment at Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on March 11, 2020.A patient (L) infected by the COVID-19 coronavirus receives acupuncture treatment at Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on March 11, 2020. (AFP/STR )

The Health Ministry’s disease control and prevention director general, Achmad Yurianto, said he had not received any information on the matter but would trace Zhang’s close contacts in Indonesia.

“Tracing is a certain thing, but it will be difficult. Where do we want to start if we don’t know which city he went to?"  Yurianto told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday, adding that the Indonesian Embassy in China would take the initial steps.

Indonesian Ambassador to China Djauhari Oratmangun said he would contact the Chinese government and ask details on Zhang before passing them to Jakarta for further investigation.

“Indeed, the number of cases from internal transmissions in China has now declined. They are mostly flown in from outside [of China]. Out of 13 confirmed cases [on Wednesday], 12 were imported,” he told the Post.

Read also: COVID-19: Indonesia suspends visa-free policy, expands ban for people from worst-hit countries

As of Tuesday, China has reported 80,894 COVID-19 cases, of which 69,614 have recovered and 3,237 died. At least 155 imported cases were recorded in China, Djauhari said. 

Meanwhile, Shaanxi has reported a total of 246 confirmed cases, with 233 discharged cases and three deaths.

After the first imported case with Zhang, the Shaanxi administration followed the strict measures applied by most regions in China by ordering a 14-day quarantine for people entering the province starting Tuesday to strengthen its prevention and control measures.

Under the order, Chinese or foreign nationals entering Shaanxi directly or transferred from other cities in the country must immediately report their basic information and health status to quarantine personnel and community workers.

“[They must] actively cooperate with relevant units to carry out prevention and control measures, such as nucleic acid testing and centralized isolation for 14 days. Related costs would be borne by each individual,” the administration said as reported by People’s Daily Xi’an.

A medical staff member gestures inside an isolation ward at Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on March 10, 2020. A medical staff member gestures inside an isolation ward at Red Cross Hospital in Wuhan in China's central Hubei province on March 10, 2020. (AFP/STR)

It also required officials in government agencies and institutions at all levels in the province to make a report as soon as they learn that relatives and friends are about to return to Shaanxi from abroad.

“Those who conceal contact or residence history, misrepresented their illness or refused to implement prevention and control measures that can spread or cause the risk of spreading the new coronavirus will be investigated for [negligence],” it added.