Indonesian official says Japanese coronavirus patient who visited Bali infected with SARS-CoV-2, not COVID-19

File photo of the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. Photo: Coconuts Media
File photo of the Ngurah Rai International Airport in Bali. Photo: Coconuts Media

Following reports of a Japanese national who tested positive for COVID-19 having visited Indonesia days before his diagnosis, an official from Indonesia’s Health Ministry today said that the patient was infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which he claims is different from COVID-19. 

“The disease we’re facing in this current epidemic is COVID-19. Meanwhile, some experts have said that there is about 70 percent difference between COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 virus,” Achmad Yurianto, secretary of the Health Ministry’s Disease Prevention and Control Directorate, told Kompas.

According to reports, the ministry has been in touch with Japanese health authorities. Achmad also noted how the ministry is still working to find out the correlation between the two viruses. 

We think it’s extremely important to note here that the World Health Organization (WHO) has officially named the novel coronavirus disease as COVID-19, while the virus that causes the disease is officially known as SARS-CoV-2.

WHO highlighted on their website that viruses and the disease they cause often have different names, because viruses are named based on their genetic structure to facilitate development of diagnostic tests, vaccines and medicines, while diseases are named to enable discussion on disease prevention, spread, transmissibility, severity and treatment. This is also the case with AIDS, for example, with HIV being the virus that causes the disease. 

According to a report by Japanese public broadcaster NHK, the Japanese patient is a man in his 60s and a staff member at a senior care facility. He traveled to Indonesia between Feb. 15 and 19 with his family, with their holiday location now being reported as Bali by local media outlets. 

The man was hospitalized in Tokyo for severe dyspnea on Feb. 19, and tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Feb. 22. 

In Japan, nine Indonesian crew members on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, which is anchored off the Port of Yokohama, tested positive for the coronavirus. As of this morning, there is zero confirmed coronavirus infection on Indonesian soil, which has raised concerns about the country’s ability to detect the disease.


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