Indonesia transport minister tests positive for COVID-19

Indonesia transport minister tests positive for COVID-19

Indonesia transport minister Budi Karya Sumadi
Indonesia's Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi (centre), Indonesia's President Joko Widodo (left), and National Search and Rescue head Muhammad Syaugi (right) inspect recovered debris from Lion Air flight JT 610 on Oct 30, 2018. (Photo: AFP / Adek Berry)

JAKARTA: Indonesian Transport Minister Budi Karya Sumadi has been hospitalised in Jakarta after he contracted coronavirus, a senior government official told a news conference on Saturday (Mar 14).

Sumadi's family had given approval for the announcement after the minister had been on "the front line and a very important part of containing the impact of COVID-19", said Pratikno, who is state secretary in charge of administrative support for the office of president.

He was identified as Case 76 by the health ministry, said the Jakarta Post.

The condition of the minister, who had attended a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday, was showing an improvement, said Albertus Budi Sulistya, the deputy head of Gatot Soebroto Hospital.

Earlier, Jakarta's governor announced that the capital city will close all schools and order remote teaching for at least two weeks to curb the spread of coronavirus, as the first cases were also reported in other parts of the archipelago.

Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, reported 27 more coronavirus cases, bringing the total confirmed infections to 96, Achmad Yurianto, a health ministry official said.

The number of deaths rose to five, Yurianto said.

While most cases have been clustered in Jakarta, cases were also reported in cities in western and central Java, Manado on Sulawesi island and Pontianak on Borneo island.

READ: Philippine capital to undergo curfew, mall closures as coronavirus deaths rise to eight

READ: Trump declares coronavirus national emergency

"We must massively, in an integrated way and without panic, search and find, and isolate positive cases," Yurianto said, adding authorities were also shifting to "a community-based approach" to prevent healthy people from getting sick.

Doni Monardo, who leads Indonesia's task force on coronavirus, said testing will be increased and struggling medical staff will be assisted by medical students and volunteers.

JAKARTA SCHOOLS CLOSE

As he announced school closures, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said cases had been detected in many parts of the city of 10 million people.

A worker wearing protective suit sprays disinfectant in Sea World, amid the coronavirus disease (CO
A worker wearing protective suit sprays disinfectant in Sea World, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Jakarta, Indonesia, March 14, 2020. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

"What must be done right now is to reduce interactions between residents. Social distancing measures must be taken," Anies said, urging residents to also stay at home and not travel unless necessary.

"Children, based on data, not many of them have been infected with COVID-19, but they are carriers and they spread the virus from one adult to another," he said in a news conference.

READ: Europe now 'epicentre' of COVID-19 pandemic: WHO

Doctors and nurses in the city have been under strain trying to treat patients and some of them had been infected, Baswedan said.

The governor had also decided to close museums, parks and zoos for two weeks beginning Friday.

The city of Solo in central Java has also announced school closures.

Indonesia confirmed its first cases of the virus last week while some neighbours had reported scores of cases far earlier, raising concerns among medical experts about infections either not being reported or going undetected.

The central government has faced criticism for withholding information regarding the spread of the virus.

Neighbouring Australia has advised its citizens to reconsider overseas travel plans including to Indonesia, citing a growing risk of transmission in the country and limited availability of testing and infection control facilities.

BOOKMARK THIS: Our comprehensive coverage of the novel coronavirus and its developments

Download our app or subscribe to our Telegram channel for the latest updates on the COVID-19 outbreak: https://cna.asia/telegram

Source: Reuters

Bookmark