Jakarta. Jakarta. The Indonesian government began on Friday the formal discussions on the possibility of building an isolation hospital for patients with deadly infectious diseases amid growing global concerns about coronavirus.
The meeting was led by Political, Legal and Security Affairs Coordinating Minister Mahfud M.D., who said the plan was an anticipatory measure against future threat to global health.
“This is a follow up of President Joko Widodo's request to discuss the possibility of preparing a special hospital for future cases similar to the current coronavirus outbreak, just in case,” Mahfud told reporters at his office in Jakarta.
The hospital may be built on an uninhabited island or around the military base, he said.
Indonesia currently has only three hospitals capable of isolating patients with deadly contagious diseases, but all of them are located in urban areas –- two in Jakarta and another in the Central Java capital of Semarang.
Mahfud said areas near military bases were ideal choices to allow faster evacuation process.
“The hospital should be located near a military base or airfield for easier evacuation process. That's the priority for now,” Mahfud said.
Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto, who joined the meeting, said the discussion was still at the early stage and the government was in no rush to make a decision.
“We were only sharing ideas about the right steps to be taken in the future, not for the present,” Terawan said.
He said there are hundreds of uninhabited islands to choose from, but the government had plenty of other options for the hospital location, he said.
More than 300 Indonesians, including 238 evacuees from China's Wuhan, are currently being quarantined at a military base on Natuna Island.
Terawan said that if everything goes according to plan, the quarantine period will end on Feb. 17. He said everyone in the isolation area was in good condition and could possibly return home as scheduled.