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Jakarta Post

Singapore denies withholding data on Indonesian nationals treated for COVID-19

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, March 14, 2020   /   11:56 am
Singapore denies withholding data on Indonesian nationals treated for COVID-19 Visitors walk along a walkway at Marina Bay in Singapore on Feb. 18. - Singapore unveiled $4.6 billion in financial packages on Feb. 18 to deal with the impact of the deadly COVID-19 novel coronavirus outbreak, which has battered the city-state's economy and sparked fears of a recession. (AFP/ Roslan RAHMAN )

The Singaporean health authority has denied an allegation made by its Indonesian counterpart that the country is withholding information about Indonesian citizens being treated for COVID-19 in the city-state.

A spokesperson of the Singaporean Health Ministry said in a statement on Friday that Singapore and Indonesia “are state parties to the World Health Organization International Health Regulations [IHR].”

“Singapore has promptly shared information with Indonesia through the official IHR channel on all the confirmed COVID-19 cases involving Indonesians, to facilitate contact tracing in Indonesia,” the spokesperson said in a statement posted on the embassy’s official Facebook account.

The ministry’s spokesperson added the Indonesian IHR national focal point (NFP), an official from the Indonesian Health Ministry, had “acknowledged receipt of the all correspondence on these cases sent by the Singaporean [counterpart].”

The Indonesian Health Ministry’s disease control and prevention director general, Achmad Yurianto, told journalists on Thursday that Singapore would not give the names of Indonesian citizens confirmed of COVID-19 in the neighboring country.

Yurianto said Jakarta was facing difficulties in tracing and isolating those who might have had contact with the patients, now being treated at Singaporean hospitals.

“We have asked for the identities of the Indonesian nationals from Singapore. They did not give us the names. How are we going to conduct the tracing in Indonesia? Singapore is adamant about not disclosing their identities,” said Yurianto, who also serves as spokesperson for all coronavirus-related matters.

The Singaporean Embassy in Jakarta initially told The Jakarta Post on Friday that the Singaporean Health Ministry had “a patient confidentiality and privacy policy.”

However, it added that  “there are no restrictions for COVID-19 patients from Indonesia or other countries from contacting their embassies. It is up to them to decide whether they want to do so. The Singapore government’s first priority is the well-being of the patients.”

Read also: Two of most recent COVID-19 cases in Singapore ‘imported virus’ from Indonesia

At least five Indonesian nationals tested positive for COVID-19 in Singapore and are being treated at local hospitals.

Critics have said the fact that Indonesia has exported cases shows that the local government is failing to detect cases and raises concerns that the number of confirmed cases in the country could be much higher than what has been reported. It may also reflect the low public confidence in the country's healthcare system.

Indonesia, with a population of more than 250 million, has reported 34 confirmed COVID-19 cases, while Singapore, with a population of around 6 million people, has reported more than 180 cases.  

While Jakarta has been criticized for its poor handling of the outbreak, Singapore has been lauded for its COVID-19 strategy. (mfp)

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