Indonesian Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto visits dengue patients in Sikka district of East Nusa Tenggara province on March 9. (Photo courtesy of Ministry of Health)
Amid anxiety over a coronavirus outbreak that has seen cases jump to 27 in the past week, Indonesia has also recorded high rates of dengue fever, which has claimed the lives of at least 100 people.
As of March 10, there were about 16,100 cases throughout the country, according to the Ministry of Health.
"Preventive measures have been taken [to deal with this outbreak],” Antara news agency quoted the ministry’s director of vector transmission and zoonotic diseases, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, as saying.
Most deaths occurred in Christian-majority East Nusa Tenggara province, which has recorded at least 32 fatalities, while West Java and East Java have also reported a high number of deaths.
The worst hit involved children aged 5-14 at 41.72 percent, followed by those aged 15-44 at 37.25 percent, Tarmizi said.
The government is taking all possible steps to treat patients and has introduced preventive measures by eradicating mosquito breeding sites at homes, schools, public places and places of worship, Tarmizi added.
Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto visited Sikka district, the worst-hit area of East Nusa Tengggara, where 14 deaths were reported. The district has recorded 1,195 cases this year.
He was accompanied by 30 doctors and six nurses to reinforce the number of medical personnel in the area.
Petrus Herlemus, acting head of the district health office, said infections were significantly higher than in recent years.
In 2016, he said, there were 620 recorded dengue cases over the same time period with 13 deaths. "This year, in March alone, the number has jumped alarmingly," he told UCA News.
He put the high number of cases down to poor drainage and sanitation problems, both in cities and villages. "People don't care about cleanliness when it comes to the environment and their homes," he said.
Father Kanis Mbani, head of Catholic social agency Caritas in Maumere Diocese, said Bishop Ewaldus Sedu and the district chief had met to discuss responses to the situation.
The bishop later issued a circular read during Mass on March 8 calling on people people to pay attention to environmental cleanliness and eradicate mosquito breeding sites.
“The Church and government require that from 7am to 9am people should clean risk areas in and around their homes to eradicate mosquito colonies," Father Mbani said.
He said the bishop has asked parish priests throughout the diocese to organize this morning routine.
Father Mbani added that Caritas had also provided mosquito repellent and fogging equipment to communities to help combat the outbreak.