Coronavirus: Indonesia House calls for stronger measures following confirmed cases

A health worker sprays disinfectant in front of the residence of two people who tested positive for the coronavirus, in Depok, Indonesia, on March 2, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Members of the House of Representatives have demanded that the government enact stronger coronavirus containment measures following the confirmation of two cases of the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Indonesia.

Mr Darul Siska, member of House of Representatives Commission IX overseeing health, workforce and population issues, said the government, especially at the country's points of entry, had failed to conduct proper screenings to keep the virus from entering.

"It should be the government's priority to tighten up screening and not just take some random samples.

"Anyone who enters Indonesia must be thoroughly checked with the proper procedure... at airports and ports. The screening procedure must be conducted in detail," he told the press on Monday (March 2).

Earlier on Monday, President Joko Widodo announced that two Indonesians had tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, which made them the first two confirmed cases of the disease in the country.

Mr Joko said that the two people, a 64-year-old and her 31-year-old daughter, had been in contact at an event in a club in Jakarta with a Japanese citizen who tested positive for the virus in Malaysia on Feb 27 after visiting Indonesia in early February.

Mr Darul Siska said all people who attended the event should be medically tested.

"Everybody who attended that event should be checked thoroughly. God forbid if the two patients were treated but the others spread the disease," he said.

The Golkar Party politician also recommended the government set up a crisis centre to prevent further infection.

Mr Ahmad Riza Patria, deputy head of Commission V overseeing transportation, said the coronavirus cases had put transportation authorities in a predicament about whether to close contact with other countries.

"We have to make extraordinary prevention efforts by limiting border access to our citizens but at the same time maintaining communication and relations with other countries," he said.

Mr Ahmad mentioned that Saudi Arabia had temporarily banned the entry of foreign pilgrims and tourists arriving from countries considered at risk for the coronavirus.

He also mentioned Indonesia's decision to limit trade with China.

"I think the Transportation Ministry has to immediately examine which flights to limit," he said.

"Later, Commission V will further discuss flights to countries that have been hit by the coronavirus," he said.

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