Indonesia begins contact tracing of patients who tested positive for coronavirus in Singapore

A volunteer spraying disinfectant at a bus station in Jakarta on March 15, 2020.
A volunteer spraying disinfectant at a bus station in Jakarta on March 15, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - An Indonesian Health Ministry official has confirmed the ministry has received information from Singaporean authorities regarding Indonesian citizens being treated for Covid-19 in the city-state, saying that authorities at home had started tracing the patients' close contacts.

"(We) have received the information from the Foreign Ministry," the Health Ministry's disease control and prevention director general, Achmad Yurianto, said on Saturday (March 14). "We have started tracing."

However, a Foreign Ministry spokesman said on Sunday that the standard protocol implemented worldwide was that information sharing was supposed to be conducted through inter-ministerial communication - by the ministries in charge of public health in each country or between officials in charge for handling such a communicable disease.

"That is the information being shared by the Health Ministry with the Foreign Ministry," said the ministry's spokesman, Teuku Faizasyah.

The Indonesian government claimed that Singapore had insisted on withholding the personal information of several Indonesian citizens believed to have shown Covid-19 symptoms in Jakarta and tested positive for the virus in the city-state.

At least eight people with Covid-19 in Singapore are believed to have contracted the virus in Indonesia, two of whom are Singaporean citizens with a history of travel to the archipelago.

In a separate statement on Friday, a spokesman for the Singaporean Health Ministry said "Singapore and Indonesia are state parties to the World Health Organisation International Health Regulations (IHR)", and that "Singapore has promptly shared information with Indonesia through the official IHR channel on all the confirmed Covid-19 cases involving Indonesians, to facilitate contact tracing in Indonesia".

"The Indonesian IHR national focal point (NFP), who is an official from the Indonesian Health Ministry, has acknowledged receipt of all correspondences on these cases sent by Singapore's IHR NFP," the spokesman added.