The Jakarta Post
An 11-year-old girl who died at the Slamet Martodirdjo Hospital in Pamekasan in Madura Island in East Java earlier this month has been confirmed as the youngest COVID-19 fatality in the country.
The girl died on March 20 and had been suspected of being COVID-19 positive. The positive result from her second test came back from a central government lab in Jakarta on March 29.
Pamekasan Regent Baddrut Tamam told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday that samples from the patient had been sent to both the Health Ministry's laboratories in Surabaya, East Java, and Jakarta before she died.
The test result from the Surabaya laboratory dated March 24 came back negative for COVID-19. However, the test result from the Jakarta laboratory dated March 29 came back positive.
Upon acknowledging the later laboratory test result, Pamekasan administration instructed those who had been in contact with the patient, especially her close relatives and medical workers in the hospital, to undergo self-quarantine for 14 days.
"We will also facilitate COVID-19 tests using rapid test kits for those who were in contact with the patient," he said.
Baddrut said that the patient had probably been infected with the virus in Malang where she had lived with her grandmother. On March 17, she was sent home to her parents in Pamekasan after she fell ill.
She was admitted to Pamekasan Hospital on March 19 and died on the following day on March 20.
Leaked data from the Health Ministry, obtained by the Post on Monday, showed that the girl’s death was most likely the second death of a minor in Indonesia. Earlier, on March 18, a 17-year-old male in West Java died of COVID-19, ministry data showed.
Since March 14, from Case 70 onward, the government’s spokesperson for COVID-19 affairs Achmad Yurianto has not provided the age of confirmed patients.
The Post is still trying to obtain information from the East Java and West Java authorities whether either of the minors had underlying health issues before they fell sick with the coronavirus.
Yurianto said he had just heard about the case and was about to contact the provincial administration of East Java for confirmation.
The leaked data provides accumulative data on confirmed COVID-19 cases up to Case 685 on March 24, showing the case number, gender, age, citizenship and treatment status. Some cases had notes such as a brief contact history. The 17-year-old male was recorded as Case 190.
According to Indonesian law and UNICEF’s definition, a 17-year-old constitutes a minor or a child, meaning Indonesia has had at least two child fatalities so far. The Post does not have data on the age and gender of patients since Case 685 and cannot say with any degree of certainty whether there have been any other child fatalities among the confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia.
West Java Health Agency head, Berli Hamdani Gelung Sakti, told the Post on Tuesday that the province had recorded deaths of minors among COVID-19 suspected patients.
“Yes, we recorded deaths of teenagers, even a baby,” he said, but he said the agency could not confirm whether they died as a result of COVID-19 because like “many other deaths, there was a comorbidity factor”. Comorbidity is a medical condition that co-occurs with another, according to the Oxford dictionary.
Last week, the spokesperson for COVID-19 in Cianjur, West Java, Yusman Faisal, told tempo.co that a “teenage girl” who was a suspected COVID-19 patient, died on March 25 in the former athletes village in Jakarta that is currently being used as an emergency hospital.
Berli of the West Java Health Agency did not elaborate on the reported death of the baby.
Yurianto did not respond to the Post’s question about the death of the 17-year-old male in West Java. Meanwhile, a spokesperson for the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), which also handles COVID-19 pandemic mitigation, said he had yet to receive any information about the death of the 17-year-old boy.
As of Tuesday, Indonesia had recorded 136 deaths among 1,528 confirmed cases spread in 32 provinces.
According to Worldometer, the global death rate among the age group of 10-19 years as of Tuesday was 0.2 percent. The highest death rate occurs among the age group 80 years and older, which is 14.8 percent.