JAKARTA: One of the two patients who tested positive for COVID-19 in Indonesia had been ill for two weeks before the authorities tested her for the virus, Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto revealed on Monday (Mar 2).
This was because she did not have a travel history to countries affected by the outbreak, he explained.
The authorities had immediately placed the patients - a 31-year-old dance teacher and her 64-year-old mother - in quarantine after learning that the former had come into close contact with a Japanese woman who visited Indonesia and later tested positive in Malaysia.
“We have done everything according to the protocols set by the WHO,” Dr Putranto said, referring to the World Health Organization.
The minister said the dance teacher and the Japanese woman knew each other previously. They met up at a dance club on Feb 14.
“The two danced together,” Dr Putranto told reporters after observing the two patients at Jakarta’s Sulianti Saroso Infectious Disease Hospital.
The minister said the dance instructor began coughing and showing symptoms of COVID-19 two days later on Feb 16.
The woman went to a local doctor but was treated as an outpatient.
“Her cough didn’t stop and her mother also developed the same symptoms. On (Feb) 26, they asked to be treated at a hospital,” Dr Putranto said.
However, authorities did not immediately declare the two as COVID-19 suspects until the Japanese woman called the dance instructor on Feb 28, alerting her that she had tested positive for the contagious disease.
“Because (the Japanese woman) called, we transferred the two (to Sulianti Saroso) on Mar 1. We immediately conducted tests on them and the results were out this morning that they are positive for the coronavirus,” the minister said.
Earlier, Malaysian authorities announced that the 41-year-old Japanese woman tested positive for COVID-19 on Feb 27. She began showing symptoms on Feb 17 and was admitted to hospital on Feb 20.
FAMILY MEMBERS ARE HEALTHY: MINISTER
Dr Putranto said the other two family members living in the same house with the Indonesian patients have not been tested.
“There are four people in their house. We have taken the other two (to hospital) for observation but they are healthy. We told them to go home. If they are not ill why should we keep them here? But we will continue to monitor them,” he said.
The minister said officials are questioning workers at the Jakarta nightclub and are trying to identify and locate all of the guests who were there on Feb 14 night.
“We will investigate who were with them at the dance club. We will reach out to them and advise them to report if they develop symptoms,” he said.
Dr Putranto urged people to stay calm after the country reported its first confirmed cases of COVID-19, reiterating that Indonesia is ready for a possible outbreak.
“The most important thing to do is to pray. If we are paranoid our immunity will go down,” he said.
On Monday morning, President Joko Widodo delivered the news of Indonesia's first confirmed COVID-19 cases, more than two months since the outbreak began.
The COVID-19 outbreak has now killed more than 3,000 people worldwide, and spread to more than 60 countries.