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Jakarta Post

West Sumatra reports first COVID-19 case, linked to Malaysia's mass prayer

  • Ivany Atina Arbi and Syofiardi Bachyul Jb

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta/Padang   /   Thu, March 26, 2020   /   07:35 pm
West Sumatra reports first COVID-19 case, linked to Malaysia's mass prayer Travelers arrive at Minangkabau International Airport in West Sumatra in June 2019. (Antara/Iggoy el Fitra)

The administration of Bukittinggi in West Sumatra announced its first case of COVID-19 on Thursday, saying it was related to a massive Islamic gathering in neighboring Malaysia.

The patient is a 48-year-old woman whose husband had returned from Malaysia after participating in the four-day gathering held near Kuala Lumpur from Feb. 27 to March 1.

She was admitted to the Dr. Achmad Mochtar General Hospital Bukittinggi on March 21, and her test result came back positive on Thursday, Bukittinggi Mayor Ramlan Nurmatias said.

Authorities, he further said, had contacted the patient's family members and screened them for testing and isolation.

"We're tracing the patient's travel history as well to identify others who have interacted with her recently,” he added.

Read also: How a 16,000-strong religious gathering led Malaysia to lockdown

A number of Indonesian citizens who participated in the mass prayer in Malaysia have tested positive for the life-threatening respiratory illness. Malaysia itself has reported hundreds of COVID-19 cases connected to the event, which was attended by roughly 16,000 people from various countries.

The mayor separately informed the public about the findings on his Instagram account @ramlannurmatias, where he also mentioned the death of another patient who had been under observation for COVID-19. The patient was a resident of Solok Selatan regency, also in West Sumatra. He died on Wednesday afternoon.


A post shared by ramlannurmatias (@ramlannurmatias) on

"I call on all Bukittinggi residents to refrain from going outside their houses to break the transmission chain. Please practice social distancing," the mayor said, adding that he would ban any mass gatherings in the meantime.

As of Thursday afternoon, five cases of COVID-19 have been detected in West Sumatra, according to a statement released by the provincial administration, two in Bukittinggi and one each in Padang city, Tanah Datar regency and South Pesisir regency.

On Monday, Governor Irwan Prayitno issued a circular calling on West Sumatra natives living in other regions not to return home for now so as to curb the spread of COVID-19. West Sumatrans are known for their aptitude to travel outside of the province to other areas of the archipelago. Many of them work as merchants selling various products in their new places of residence.