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Indonesia prepares measures to handle COVID-19 cases

Indonesia prepares measures to handle COVID-19 cases

A paramedic prepared an isolation room for patient with COVID-19 at Dokter Slamet Hospital in Garut District, West Java. (ANTARA/Feri Purnama)

Indonesia has now come under the clutches of Coronavirus (COVID-19), with President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) announcing on March 2, 2020, the country's first two cases.

A 64-year-old mother and her 31-year-old daughter have tested positive for the infection. The patients are currently in a stable condition while undergoing treatment in an isolation room of the Sulianti Saroso Infectious Disease Hospital in Jakarta.

The two Indonesians were in contact with a Japanese citizen, who had tested positive in Malaysia on Feb 27 after visiting Indonesia in early February.

The COVID-19 outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, is currently affecting 77 countries and territories across the world, with 91,347 cases, 3,120 deaths, and and 48,284 patients recovered, according to data on https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/, on March 3.

Jokowi has made assurance to the public that his government has already made necessary preparations to tackle the outbreak since it originated in China.

The government has readied over 100 hospitals applying WHO-required services, isolation rooms, medical equipment, and facility standards across the nation to handle coronavirus infection cases.

He also revealed that the government had formed a joint team comprising of military, police, and civilian members to control and manage the outbreak.

"We also have budget funding that will be prioritized to handle it (coronavirus). If we are not serious about handling it, it will be highly dangerous, and we should remain vigilant and exercise caution," he remarked.

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Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto had earlier revealed that two infected Indonesians are the residents of Depok City, West Java, a suburban area of Jakarta.

"They were detected to have carried the virus on March 1. Thereafter, we already tracked their activities as well as separated all people they had come in close contact with. Family members, who live together with them, are also separated," Putranto stated.

"I have observed them and checked their condition. They are in good condition. They do not suffer from fever and shortness of breath. Nothing. They eat and communicate well," he informed journalists at the Sulianti Saroso Infectious Diseases Hospital.

The Indonesian government has devices of international standard to treat patients of coronavirus infection, he affirmed.

Furthermore, the government will bear the expenses for health services for COVID-19 patients as stipulated in Health Minister’s Decree Number HK.01.07/MENKES/104/2020 on Coronavirus Infection as Disease that Could Cause Outbreak and its Mitigation, signed by the health minister on February 4, 2020.

He denied that the government had concealed coronavirus cases in the country. Earlier, several parties had cast doubts and raised concerns over Indonesia’s ability to detect coronavirus patients, as the country had claimed zero COVID-19 cases despite increasing coronavirus cases in Indonesia’s neighboring countries of Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Australia.

Related news: Jakarta Govt to set up command post to monitor coronavirus

A day prior to the president’s announcement on the first COVID-19 cases, the Jakarta administration disclosed a plan to establish a command post serving as a center for monitoring, preventing, and controlling the spread of coronavirus in the capital city, which, so far, remains free from the outbreak.

"Later, there will be a command post, and the complete information will be announced tomorrow, Monday. Certainly, it will be a reference for all activities related to COVID-19 and a control center for monitoring, prevention, and control of COVID-19," Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan had stated on March 1, 2020, on Sunday.

Moreover, Jakarta plans to form a Coronavirus Response Team comprising all elements, not only from the Regional Work Units (SKPD) within Jakarta Province but also those from the central government and all stakeholders in the capital.

Such a collaboration is deemed necessary to enable swift response as a precautionary measure against the spread of coronavirus in Jakarta that is the gateway to Indonesia.

"Why do we move quickly as a precautionary measure? It is since Jakarta is the gateway to Indonesia. The arrival of people and international interactions are mostly in Jakarta," Baswedan explained.

He expressed optimism that the measures to be adopted by the Jakarta government would help to proffer a sense of calm to the community, as the local government will be responsive. He appealed to the public to not panic or overreact.

"Go about your activities as usual and do not spread the news that its truth has not been confirmed. However, please remain vigilant," he stated.

He urged Jakartans to call 112 in the event of any suspected case with symptoms similar to those of COVID-19, as the Jakarta health authorities would be ready to respond quickly.

Baswedan vowed to regularly offer updates in a transparent and open manner on coronavirus cases in the capital city.

Currently, six people, suspected of having contracted Covid-19, are being isolated at the Sulianti Saroso Infectious Diseases Hospital after developing symptoms of fever and cough.

"Last night, four new patients came in and another two arrived this morning. They were referred from other hospitals," the hospital's Chief Executive Officer, Mohammad Syahril, stated in Jakarta on March 3.

Of the four people placed in isolation on March 2, three had come in contact with two Indonesians, who were confirmed positive with COVID-19.

Another person had recently returned from a country with confirmed COVID-19 cases, he remarked while desisting from divulging the name of the country that the patient had visited.

"The test results of all six patients will come out tomorrow (March 4)," he revealed.

In fact, 11 Indonesians overseas had earlier tested positive for COVID-19, notably one in Singapore and she later recovered; one in Taiwan; and nine, who are crew members of Diamond Princess, in Japan

In the meantime, Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian appealed to the public to not panic in the midst of the current issue of COVID-19.

"I think we should not panic. We know that the government has tried its best. We are aware of a national-level coordination," he noted in a press statement on March 3.

The minister also called on the people to bolster their immune system by exercising and leading a healthy lifestyle to avoid contracting the COVID-19 infection.

"Sun exposure, particularly in the mornings, should be done often. We should take a cue from our ancestors that the morning sun offers numerous advantages, especially vitamin D and so on. This means the virus cannot develop at certain high temperatures," he explained.

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