Indonesia’s Health Ministry today confirmed that nine of the 78 Indonesian crew members aboard the virus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
On Feb. 18, Indonesia’s Foreign Ministry confirmed that three Indonesian crew members had tested positive for COVID-19, which was followed by another confirmed case two days later. The four Indonesian COVID-19 patients were sent to be treated at two separate facilities in Japan, while the Indonesian government said it would look into bringing home the remaining 74 still quarantined on the ship.
But the number of infected Indonesian crew members continued to rise over the weekend.
“Nine Indonesian nationals have been infected and are being treated by the Japanese government,” Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto said today at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta, as quoted by Detik.
Amid an apparent ongoing risk of infection on the Diamond Princess, Terawan said the government will not rush in bringing home the Indonesian crew members as keeping the rate of domestic infection at zero is the highest priority.
“For example, there are countries that rushed into [repatriating citizens suspected of infection], like Australia, which went from [COVID-19] negative to positive. Do we want to be like that? America is like that too, right? We don’t want to follow their lead, do we? We are careful,” he said.
Yesterday, several Indonesian crew members aboard the Diamond Princess recorded a video, published by Australian public broadcaster ABC, begging President Joko Widodo for their immediate evacuation from the ship. They likened being quarantined on the ship to “being killed slowly.”
WNI Kru Kapal Pesiar Diamond Princess menitipkan melalui @abcaustralia_id video yang ditujukan kepada Presiden @jokowi. Para kru meminta pemerintah Indonesia segera menjemput mereka dari Yokohama, Jepang. pic.twitter.com/mG61bLrF6S
— ABC Indonesia (@abcaustralia_id) February 23, 2020
The Diamond Princess, which was carrying 3,711 passengers and crew members, has been anchored off the Port of Yokohama since Feb. 4. Japanese authorities say 691 people have been infected on the ship, while three have died from the infection.