Health Ministry waiting on official reports of Japanese COVID-19 patient entering Indonesia

Health monitoring counter at an Indonesian airport. Photo: Kemenhub
Health monitoring counter at an Indonesian airport. Photo: Kemenhub

Update Feb. 24: The Health Ministry has revealed that, based on conversations with Japanese authorities, the Japanese patient visited Bali days before he tested positive for the coronavirus. However, the ministry pointed out that the subject was infected with SARS-CoV-2, which is “different” to COVID-19. It must be noted that, according to the World Health Organization, SARS-CoV-2 is the virus that causes the disease COVID-19.

The Health Ministry says it can thus far neither confirm nor deny that a Japanese national who tested positive for COVID-19 visited Indonesia days before his diagnosis.

In a report by Japanese public broadcaster NHK, the patient, who is described as a man in his 60s, is a staff member at a senior care facility. On Feb. 12, he had himself checked out after developing cold-like symptoms. He was allowed to go home that day.

On Feb. 15, the man reportedly flew to Indonesia with his family for holiday, though their exact destination was not disclosed. By Feb. 19, the man was already in Tokyo where he was hospitalized for severe dyspnea.

On Feb. 22, he tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

Indonesia’s Health Ministry says it’s waiting on official confirmation from the Japanese government for NHK’s report.

“I have not received any notification from Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare. I can’t comment further without their notification,” Anung Sugihantono, director general of the ministry’s Disease Prevention and Control Directorate, told state news agency Antara yesterday.

On Wednesday, the ministry said, without giving specific time frames, that it recently deported a Japanese national shortly after he or she arrived at an undisclosed airport in Indonesia over suspicions of coronavirus infection.

The link between the deportation and NHK’s report has yet to be officially established.

In Japan, four Indonesian crew members aboard the ill-fated Diamond Princess cruise ship, which is anchored off the Port of Yokohama, tested positive for the coronavirus. The Indonesian government says it’s working on bringing home the other 74 Indonesian crew members at the ship. 

The four infections are the only cases involving Indonesians worldwide. Indonesia has yet to confirm a single COVID-19 case in the country.

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