JAKARTA: Indonesia has so far logged 15 cases of acute hepatitis with unknown origin, after detecting the first three such cases two weeks ago, said Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin on Monday (May 09).
Speaking at a virtual press conference, Mr Sadikin said when the cases were reported on Apr 27, Indonesia issued a circular asking all hospitals and health offices to carry out surveillance and monitoring of such cases.
He said Singapore announced its first case three days later.
“On April 30, Singapore announced its first case and so far there have been 15 cases in Indonesia,” he said.
According to Mr Sadikin most of the cases of acute hepatitis with unknown cause have been reported in the United Kingdom, which has seen more than 100 cases.
This was followed by cases in Italy, Spain and the United States.
He said the Indonesian government has been coordinating with the UK and US disease control and prevention centres, a day after the Idul Fitri holiday on May 2.
Despite having received a lot of information about the virus from these centres, Mr Sadikin said the conclusion is still not final on what actually causes this case of acute hepatitis.
“Research is being carried out now jointly by Indonesia in collaboration with WHO (World Health Organisation) and we are also working with America and the UK to be able to quickly detect what causes it,” said Mr Sadikin.
WHO reported that an outbreak of acute hepatitis – which is an inflammation of the liver - has killed a number of children worldwide.
Those affected children were between the ages of one month old and 16 years old, with many of them under the age of 10.
As of Monday, at least five deaths have been reported in Indonesia due to the acute hepatitis case among children.
While the cause is yet to be determined, investigators are believed to be studying a family of pathogens called adenoviruses that cause a range of illnesses such as the common cold.
Some of the symptoms are abdominal pain, diarrhoea and vomiting, followed by jaundice, which is marked by the skin or the whites of the eyes turning yellow.
Singapore’s first detected case of acute hepatitis was found in a 10-month-old boy on April 30.