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Jakarta Post

Months after returning home, Dutchman learns he had COVID-19 in Indonesia

  • Apriza Pinandita
    Apriza Pinandita

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, March 26, 2020   /   06:53 pm
Months after returning home, Dutchman learns he had COVID-19 in Indonesia A health worker dressed in protective gear takes a sample from a driver at a drive-through testing center for the COVID-19 disease at Donostia Hospital in San Sebastian, Spain, on March 25. (AFP/ANDER GILLENEA)

Joey Schouten, 21, a Dutch traveler came to Indonesia in January after spending a couple of days in Singapore.

He flew from the city-state to his next destination, East Java, where he suddenly fell ill after a few days.

And two months later, when he was already at home, he received a text message from his doctor in Indonesia, informing him that he had tested positive for COVID-19.

“Out of nowhere, I got 41 degrees fever, and I passed out for the first time in my life,” Schouten told the Eindhovens Dagblad– a local newspaper in Eindhoven, the Netherlands -- on March 20, recalling his visit.

Read also: Netherlands extends bans on public gatherings to June 1

The resident of Helmond in the Eindhoven metropolitan region said he had no idea what had been wrong with him until he got the message from his doctor on March 19, informing him of the positive result of the medical test he had taken at a hospital in East Java – months after the incident.

Schouten said he was baffled when he received the text, adding that the East Java medical workers had to take six blood samples and yet, at the time, had no idea about the cause of his sickness.

A screen grab of an Instagram post of Joey Schouten of the Netherlands who on March 19, 2020 finds he had COVID-19 during his trip to East Java in January. Schouten is already back at home. A screen grab of an Instagram post of Joey Schouten of the Netherlands who on March 19, 2020 finds he had COVID-19 during his trip to East Java in January. Schouten is already back at home. (Instagram/@dhr_schouten)

In January, Indonesia was oblivious to the coronavirus, as most people in the country thought the Chinese city of Wuhan, the epicenter of the disease at the time, was far enough away, the paper reported.

“I have now experienced how easily you can get [the coronavirus] and that it can make everyone very sick, young people like me, too,” he told the daily.

Read also: Friend, hospital in Blitar throw doubts on Dutchman's claim of COVID-19 positive result

The 21-year-old visited Singapore in early January, where he walked through Chinatown. Many Chinese tourists made purchases for the Chinese New Year. People in the country did not feel the need to wear face masks at the time, because the Singaporean authorities only warned about "a mysterious lung disease from China" a week later, Schouten said in the report.

When he was feeling ill during his visit to East Java, some Indonesian bystanders took him to a hospital, where he spent nine days on IVs and ultrasound machines.

"Doctors thought I had a bad flu and gave me all kinds of medicine," he recalled, counting it one of his few vivid moments. 

Read also: Dutch floral industry wilting due to coronavirus

As he was in and out of consciousness due to the sickness, the Dutch said the nine-day stay felt like a three-day treatment. "That's how much I slept at the time, because I was completely exhausted."

Two months later, a screenshot of a text message from a person named Dhea Daritsh, who claimed to be a staff member of the Aisyiyah Islamic Hospital in Malang, East Java, circulated on the internet – and was also published by the Eindhovens Dagblad in the report.

However, the hospital issued a statement last week, saying the information was false. “There was no patient named Joey Schouten that was hospitalized in our hospital. Such information is irresponsible,” said the hospital management on its Instagram account. The hospital also denied information regarding the staffer, let alone a doctor named Dhea Daritsh who claimed to be working at the hospital.

On Feb. 3, Schouten posted a photo on his Instagram account showing himself lying on a hospital bed, geotagged to Saiful Anwar General Hospital (RSSA) – in Malang, East Java.

The hospital has confirmed that it treated Schouten.

“We can inform you that a patient named Joey Schouten was registered as a patient at the RSSA on Jan. 23. After receiving treatment, the patient was permitted to go home on Jan. 25,” the hospital’s public relations department told The Jakarta Post in a text message on Thursday, without elaborating on the cause of Schouten’s hospitalization.

As of Thursday, data from Johns Hopkins University showed that Indonesia had 893 confirmed cases, resulting in 78 deaths. Meanwhile, the Netherlands had reported 6,412 cases and 356 deaths.

More than 170 countries have reported cases of COVID-19, which has killed more than 21,300 people in the world. More than 115,000 people have recovered globally.

If you want to help in the fight against COVID-19, we have compiled an up-to-date list of community initiatives designed to aid medical workers and low-income people in this article. Link: [UPDATED] Anti-COVID-19 initiatives: Helping Indonesia fight the outbreak