Health Minister Agus Terawan Putranto, center, at his ministry's headquarters in Jakarta on Monday. (JG Photo/Diana Mariska)

At Least 48 People Under Observation in Indonesia After Coming Into Contact With Covid-19 Patients


MARCH 02, 2020

Jakarta. The government revealed on Monday at least 48 people have been put under observation after coming into direct contact with the first two confirmed Covid-19 patients in Indonesia and admitted the number could grow.

An official from the Health Ministry confirmed the government had been carrying out "active surveillance" after two women from Depok, West Java, were confirmed to have been infected with the novel coronavirus on Monday.

Anung Sugihantono, the Health Ministry's disease control and prevention director-general, said at the moment 48 people have been discovered to have had contact with the two patients.

"As of now, there are 48 people who have had first, second or third-degree contact [with the confirmed Covid-19 patients]. In other words, tight, close and area contact," Anung said at the ministry's office in Jakarta on Monday.


Area contact means people have been in the same room with the infected patients.

Anung said the number could continue to grow as the government continues to track every individual the Covid-19 patients had come into contact with prior to testing positive for the virus.

According to Anung, different treatment would be needed for people who had come into contact with the patients according to the three contact categories.

He said people who had come into tight contact with the patients would have to go through a lab examination.

People who had come into close contact would be put under observation.

If there's more than one person in this category, the observation can be done through random sampling supervised by the ministry's Health Research and Development Board.

People who had been in the same room with the patients would also be put under observation, Anung said.

At the moment, the government is still working out which of the 48 people currently under observation belong to which of the three contact categories.

Chronology of Contact

On the same occasion, Health Minister Agus Terawan Putranto gave a chronology of events that led to the two Covid-19 patients being confirmed to have contracted the novel coronavirus.

The minister said the 31-year-old woman made contact with a Japanese man in her capacity as a dancing teacher on Feb. 14.

Then on Feb. 16, after the Japanese man had returned to Malaysia where he lives, the woman began coughing, which prompted her to seek outpatient treatment at a hospital.

Since her coughing had persisted until Feb. 26, the patient asked to be evaluated more closely. She told the medical staff at the hospital she went to of all the contacts she'd had before her illness started, including with the Japanese man. She was then put under observation with close monitoring.

On Feb. 28, the woman received a phone call from the Japanese man in Malaysia who said he had been confirmed to have contracted the novel coronavirus.

That was when the woman and her 64-year-old mother, who lives with her in Depok, just outside Jakarta, were moved to the Prof. Dr. Sulianti Saroso Hospital for Infectious Diseases in North Jakarta on Feb. 29.

"The hospital carried out a swab test and other tests, and this morning we had confirmation that they had been infected with the novel coronavirus," Terawan said.

Anung did not say whether the Japanese man had infected the Indonesian women or the other way around.

"That's not so important. In polio or diphtheria cases, we can trace the source of the virus. The SARS-CoV-2 – the cause of the Covid-19 infection – is different. What we should focus on now is the fact that we know there has been a local transmission of the virus in Indonesia. In this particular case, from the daughter to her mother," Anung said.

Preventive Measures From Ministries and Gov't Agencies

Soon after President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo announced the discovery of the first two Covid-19 patients in Indonesia to the public on Monday morning, several ministries and agencies had moved rapidly to announce preventive measures to minimize the spread of the virus.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan announced he was already working with Jakarta's Transportation Department, MRT Jakarta and TransJakarta to prevent the spread of the virus in the city's public transportation network.

MRT Jakarta, the operator of the city's mass rapid transit system, has asked that Jakartans who are suffering from high fever refrain from catching the MRT train.

Meanwhile, the Transportation Ministry is preparing a standard operating procedure (SOP) for land and railway transportation to halt the spread of the SARS-CoV-2.