No coronavirus cases detected in Indonesia so far, despite tests on nine people: Official

An Indonesian health quarantine official is seen holding a thermal scanner at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, near Jakarta, on Jan 22, 2020. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA - Despite having tested a number of people with flu-like symptoms similar to the Wuhan coronavirus, there has not been any case confirmed in Indonesia, a health official said on Sunday (Jan 26).

At least nine people have been isolated or examined for the possibility of the virus infection separately in Jakarta, Bali, Riau Islands and North Sulawesi, but they were tested negative.

"Nobody has been confirmed positive so far," Health Ministry's director general for disease control and prevention Anung Sugihantono told The Straits Times.

An Indonesian national who serves as an interpreter for Chinese tourists was isolated and observed in a hospital in Manado, North Sulawesi on Saturday (Jan 25) for having a cold after returning from Guangzhou, China, Antara news agency reported.

On the same day, two Chinese tourists and one Mexican tourist with flu-like symptoms, including fever, were tested negative in Indonesia's tourism hotspot Bali, while another test on an Indonesian national suffering from a fever after arriving in Jakarta from China were also negative, local media reported.

Earlier four Chinese tourists in Bintan, Riau Islands were quarantined for having high body temperature and sore throats, but were later declared of having a regular fever.

On Friday (Jan 24) President Joko Widodo ordered Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto to raise vigilance and observe the development closely to anticipate the spread of the new virus in Indonesia.

"The most important thing is that we stay alert and vigilant," he said in a press statement.

He added: "We have been ready to examine everyone arriving from overseas with (thermal) scanners or whoever potentially infected by the virus."

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The Health Ministry has prepared 100 hospitals across the country to tackle the disease. It has also activated thermal scanners in 135 entry points nationwide to examine inbound travelers.

The Transportation Ministry issued on Friday temporary suspension of all flights operated by Indonesian carriers to and from Wuhan, demanding the flights from Indonesia to be shifted to other Chinese cities.

Riau Islands health agency chief Tjetjep Yudiana said on Friday that Riau Islands health agency was monitoring closely the development in Singapore, with which it has partnered in the past to handle the spread of viruses, including SARS and Monkeypox.

"We share our experience and monitor the incubation period of virus suspects who are being treated there because our traffic with our neighbor is quite high," he said.

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