Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Communication and Informatics Ministry reports that from January to March 8 there were 177 novel coronavirus hoaxes in Indonesia, as the government works to deal with the impact of this COVID-19.

Five cases of these 177 hoaxes are being handled by the Indonesian police, Director General of Informatics Application at the Communication and Informatics Ministry Samuel Abrijani Pangerapan said here on Monday.

Two of the five hoax-related cases are being handled by the East and West Kalimantan police, while the other is being investigated by the authority of the East Jakarta-based Halim Perdanakusuma Airport, he said.

The cases are to be filed with the police if those creating and distributing the hoaxes had intended to cause public panic, Pangerapan said.

The ministry traced 35 COVID-19-related hoaxes from March 2 to March 8. The total number increased from 17 in the previous week. The spread of COVID-19-related hoaxes reached its peak from Jan 27 to Feb 2, 2020.

During that period, the ministry noted that there were 42 hoaxes following massive media reports of the novel coronavirus outbreak that first struck the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of December 2019, he said.

The ministry has been attempting to minimize the proliferation of coronavirus hoaxes by providing the public with accurate and credible information, he said.

The Indonesian government has put in place precautionary measures since the early stage of the coronavirus outbreak that first struck the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of December 2019.

In addition to installing thermal scanners at the country's airports and seaports, as well as making preparations at hospitals across the archipelago, the Indonesian government repatriated several hundred citizens.

On February 2, 238 Indonesian nationals were airlifted from Wuhan, China, to then be quarantined in Natuna District's Riau Islands Province. All of these people were found to be healthy and sent back to their families.

The Indonesian government also repatriated 188 Indonesians employed as crew members of the cruise ship World Dream Liner, and 69 Indonesians employed as cabin crew on the Diamond Princess cruise ship.

The World Dream cruise ship's crew members and 69 cabin crew of the Diamond Princess had been sent to Sebaru Kecil Island, Jakarta's Thousand Islands, for a 14-day quarantine.

On March 2, 2020, President Jokowi declared that two Indonesians had tested positive for COVID-19. They were treated in an isolated room at the Jakarta-based Sulianti Saroso Infectious Diseases Hospital.

The deadly virus outbreak, which has spread to 109 countries and territories around the world, has claimed at least 3,882 lives – most of whom are in China – and infected over 111,400 people worldwide.

The Indonesian authority has reported that there have been 19 confirmed COVID-19 cases within the country, as of Monday afternoon.

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Translator: Arnidhya NZ, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Sri Haryati
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