The government wants to obtain comprehensive data from the Ministry of Health on the Zika virus."
Jakarta (ANTARA News) - In the fight against the dengue fever outbreak that has spread alarmingly to several regions, Indonesia should also implement early preventive measures in preparation for the possible occurrence of the deadlier Zika virus.

Zika virus is also transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which is known to spread dengue fever and the chikungunya virus that produce flu-like symptoms including low-grade fever, headaches, joint pain, and rashes.

According to the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, a 27-year-old man living in Jambi province on Sumatra Island who had never traveled overseas was found to be infected with the Zika virus.

Therefore, Deputy Director of the Eijkman Molecular Biology Institution Herawati Sudoyo emphasized that Indonesia should implement early preventive measures in line with the World Health Organizations (WHOs) announcement.

Eijkman is the first institution to have isolated the Zika virus in Indonesia and has found a Zika case in Jambi, Sumatra, after the outbreak of the dengue disease in the province.

Zika has opened a new front in Indonesia, and therefore, preventive actions should be taken immediately against both the dengue and Zika viruses, Herawati affirmed.

Head of the Communications Bureau of the Public Health Care of the Health Ministry Oscar Primadi noted that the ministry had alerted all regional health offices against the outbreak of the Zika virus.

The WHO has announced that the Zika virus in Latin America poses a global public health emergency, necessitating a united response.

Margaret Chan, the WHO director general, called Zika an "extraordinary event" that needed a coordinated response.

"I am now declaring that the recent cluster of microcephaly and other neurological abnormalities reported in Latin America following a similar cluster in French Polynesia in 2014 constitutes a public health emergency of international concern," Chan remarked.

She affirmed that the priorities were to protect pregnant women and their infants from harm and to control the mosquitoes that are spreading the virus.

Presidential Special Staff of Communication Johan Budi Sapto Pribowo had noted that the Zika virus should be taken seriously before it is too late, despite it not having become an epidemic in Indonesia.

Speaking to reporters at the Presidential Palace complex here on Wednesday, Budi stated that President Joko Widodo will soon call Health Minister Nila Djuwita Anfasa Moeloek to formulate precautionary and preventive measures in the fight against the Zika virus.

"The government wants to obtain comprehensive data from the Ministry of Health on the Zika virus," Budi noted, adding that news on the discovery of the Zika virus in Bengkulu in 2015 was not valid.

He affirmed that the president would not take a decision without hearing and reading information provided by the Ministry of Health on the Zika virus, which has raised global concerns following its rapid spread.

Tri Wibawa, chairman of the Microbiology Department at the Gajah Mada Universitys Faculty of Medicine, noted in Yogyakarta on Tuesday that the public should not worry about the Zika virus but should remain vigilant.

"In Indonesia, the identification of the Zika virus that has spread in the Latin American community is not yet clear. It should be examined first whether the Zika virus in Indonesia is the same as or is different from that in Latin America," Wibawa noted.

In addition, he remarked that it should be reconfirmed whether the incidence of microcephaly in Colombia was really caused by the Zika virus.

"The Zika virus found in Indonesia could be different from that in Latin America, and therefore, the people need not worry about the virus. Besides this, the clinical manifestations due to the Zika virus attack are not as severe as dengue fever, which can lead to death," he pointed out.

Wibawa added that from an earlier report about the Zika virus attacks, it did not cause death, but the symptoms were characterized by fever, headache, joint pain, sometimes accompanied by a rash, red rash, and inflammation of the eye.

Nonetheless, he suggested that the people should still remain alert to the presence of the Zika virus since Indonesia is a country where the virus has a potential to spread.

In the meantime, Indonesias Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT) claimed here on Tuesday that the Zika virus infection was yet to be identified clearly in the archipelago.

According to the agencys deputy head of the agroindustrial technology and biotechnology division, Eng Eniya Listiana Dewi, the most common symptoms of the Zika virus infection are similar to those of malaria and the aedes aegypti-caused dengue fever.

"We still affirm that the symptoms of the Zika virus infection are similar to those of malaria and the aedes aegypti-caused dengue fever. Therefore, the identification of this virus remains unclear. For Indonesia, malaria remains harmful," she informed journalists on the sidelines of a meeting of the Joint Coordinating Committee (JCC) for the SATREPS Project by Utilizing Diversity of Indonesia Bio-resources (SLeCAMA) here.

In coping with the threat of the Zika virus infection, the Health Ministry has warned related parties and society members to implement the 3M guidelines, which stand for burying, draining, and covering, as well as the campaign to eradicate mosquito breeding grounds.

Reporter: Otniel Tamindael
Editor: Priyambodo RH
Copyright © ANTARA 2016