President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo takes a bicycle ride at the Bogor Botanical Park in Bogor, West Java on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of the Presidential Secretariat)

It's Negative: Jokowi Escapes Another Coronavirus Encounter


JULY 25, 2020

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said on Saturday that he has tested negative for Covid-19, dispelling public concerns after it was revealed the President had a close encounter with an asymptomatic person at the State Palace last week.

"Last night, the swab test results came out. Thank God it's negative. [The First Lady Iriana] is also negative," Jokowi said, after a bicycle ride at the Bogor Botanical Park in Bogor, West Java.  

The President met Achmad Purnomo, Solo's deputy mayor, at the State Palace last week. Purnomo later took two consecutive polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on July 17 and 18, which confirmed that he had SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the Covid-19 disease, in his body. 

Purnomo then announced his condition to the public on Thursday, saying he felt nothing wrong with his body. 

"I feel very healthy, with no complaints at all. There were no symptoms at all, no coughing, no shortness of breath," Purnomo said, adding that he would isolate himself for two weeks. 

Still, the news prompted the State Palace to move forward the President's Covid-19 weekly PCR test to Friday. 

Heru Budi Hartono, the head of the Presidential Secretariat, said the State Palace imposed a strict health protocol within the palace compound. Each visitor must take a Covid-19 rapid test — which is known to be inaccurate —, wear a mask and always keep a safe distance from each other. 

"First, we need to emphasize here, that every official, minister, or community who will meet the President will follow a strict health protocol," Heru said. 

Heru also said there was a little chance that Purnomo got infected at the State Palace. "Where he had infected was his business. It was not certain that [he had infected at the State Palace]," Heru said. 

The meeting with Purnomo was at least the second time Jokowi's close encounter with confirmed Covid-19 patient became known to the public. Earlier in March, his transportation minister Budi Karya Sumadi had tested positive with the disease after attending a cabinet meeting with the President and other ministers at the State Palace.

No other ministers contracted the disease at the time. Budi Karya had recovered and reassumed his role in the cabinet. 

The number of Covid-19 cases in Indonesia had shown no sign of slowing with the country soon to pass the 100,000-mark in the next couple of days. 

The country added 1,866 new cases on Saturday, to bring the total confirmed cases to 97,286. So far, Indonesia had reported 4,714 total number of deaths and 55,354 recoveries.