Indonesia reports first coronavirus death, total confirmed cases at 34

A motorist wears a protective face mask while driving, in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, on March 10, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA - Indonesia on Wednesday (March 11) confirmed its first death from the coronavirus - a 53-year-old British woman in Bali with several underlying health conditions including hypertension and diabetes.

The death came in just slightly over a week after the country announced its first positive case, which as of Wednesday morning stands at 34.

The provincial government in Bali, where the deceased patient was treated, said she held UK citizenship.

"(The patient) had underlying conditions of high blood pressure, hyperthyroidism and long years of obstructive lung disease.

"She was 53 and a foreigner. The embassy has been informed," Mr Achmad Yurianto, a spokesman for the Covid-19 task force, told a press conference.

He declined to disclose the nationality of the woman but said she died at around 2am on Wednesday.

"Coronavirus had reduced her immune system, and in turn worsened her pre-existing medical conditions," Mr Achmad added.

Indonesia announced on Wednesday seven new cases of coronavirus - all of whom were imported cases - adding to the eight cases on Tuesday, and 13 cases on Monday.

With the number of cases rising, Indonesia is stepping up its capacity for testing people for Covid-19, the illness caused by the new coronavirus.

An additional 10,000 rapid PCR (polymerase chain reaction) tester kits had arrived in Jakarta on Tuesday. It is to supplement the more accurate swab tests, which takes longer to confirm results.

Mr Achmad said the government has tested up to 736 people as of Wednesday morning. Jakarta is now training medical staff from across Indonesia so tests could also be carried out in various places, not just Jakarta.

"We are continuing to do close contact tracing on all the 27 confirmed cases," Mr Achmad stressed on Wednesday morning, before an additional seven cases were announced.

Case 6 and Case 14 have tested negative for the second time, making them eligible for discharge from hospital.

"We are now educating them before they go home so they can properly conduct self-isolation," Mr Achmad said.

"Although they have tested negative... they have to avoid close contact with family members, not share utensils and reduce outside-home activitiesincluding meeting other people."

Mr Achmad declined to disclose the general locations, or areas within a city where a confirmed case resides.

He said such information is not relevant as infected persons are unlikely to remain at home during the incubation period.

Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation, had from Sunday stepped up its fight to contain the spread of the virus by banning the entry and transit of foreign visitors coming from 10 places worst-stricken by the coronavirus including Iran, Italy and South Korea.

The Jakarta government on Wednesday decided to postpone a planned Formula E electric car championship race which was previously slated for June 6, which would be series 9 of the 13 world stops, due to heightened coronavirus risks. No new date was given.

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