Jakarta. Indonesia has confirmed two novel coronavirus cases in its territory after diagnosing two women living in Depok, a West Java suburb just outside Jakarta, who came in contact with a Japanese man coming from Malaysia who was already infected with the virus several days ago.
Health Minister Agus Terawan Putranto said the women had tested positive for the SARS-CoV-2, a new strain of the coronavirus that causes the pneumonia-like Covid-19 disease, and are now kept in isolation at the Prof. Dr. Sulianti Saroso Hospital for Infectious Diseases in North Jakarta.
"When we first found out about the Japanese man's [confirmed with coronavirus] case in Malaysia, a team in Indonesia went straight away to track down his activities and who he had met here," President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said.
"Now we've found these two women — a 64-year old woman and her 31-year old daughter — positive with the virus," he said.
The announcement came on Tuesday after weeks of speculations from foreign health experts who were skeptical of Indonesia's claim that it had been spared from the virus despite its close trade and tourism links with China and Wuhan.
Last week, Japan said it identified a man who had contracted the coronavirus after returning from Indonesia.
Last weekend, the New Zealand authorities also reported a woman, aged in her 60s, arriving from Iran with the coronavirus after spending an unidentified time transiting in Bali.
The Indonesian government has insisted it has the capability to detect the virus early and contain its spread.
President Jokowi said it has 100 hospitals across the country with the capability to treat patients infected with the novel coronavirus, having previous experience in containing the spread of the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), the other diseases caused by the coronavirus family.
"We have the 100 hospitals with good isolation standard. We have enough reagents and standard operating procedures that match international standards. We've deployed a joint team comprising the police, the military and medical workers to deal with this issue," Jokowi said.
"If we are not serious in handling this, it can be very dangerous," the president said.
Studies emerging out of China, the center of the outbreak, so far suggested the virus spreads through droplets coughed out by infected patients. The droplets can survive on a solid surface for up to two days.
Experts say the most effective way to avoid getting infected is by washing yiur hands with soap regularly, keeping a meter's distance from people and avoid touching face, shaking hands or touching surfaces in public areas.