Foreign tourists walk through the passenger lounge at Gili Mas seaport next to a poster asking travelers to notify authorities if they display Covid-19 symptoms on Indonesia’s Lombok Island in West Nusa Tenggara province. (Photo: Moh el Sasaky/AFP)
Indonesia’s Health Ministry has confirmed 13 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the total number of infections in the world’s fourth-most populous nation to 19.
Achmad Yurianto, secretary of the ministry’s disease control and prevention directorate general, said seven of the new patients had recently returned from countries where the novel coronavirus was widespread, making them imported cases.
“We traced them. [They had travel histories to] three countries. These, of course, are countries affected by the coronavirus,” he told journalists during a press conference on March 9 in the Presidential Palace in Jakarta.
Two were foreign nationals, he said.
“Case 7 is a 59-year-old woman whose current condition is stable. Her case is an imported one as she recently returned from overseas,” he said. “She passed the disease on to Case 8, her 56-year-old husband.”
His condition is considered more serious as he had diabetes, Yurianto added.
The six other imported cases — four men and two women — and all the other cases were showing light to moderate symptoms, he said.
“As of today, the total number of confirmed positive cases is 19,” Yurianto said, adding that all the patients are aged between 16 and 59.
As part of its fight against the virus, Indonesia has banned entry and transit of foreign nationals from certain parts of Iran, Italy and South Korea, the countries worst hit by the coronavirus outside China.
Those from other parts of these countries will be admitted but only if they show medical certificates issued by medical authorities declaring them healthy at check-in.
Veronica Felnditi, spokeswoman for St. Carolus Hospital in Jakarta, said the Catholic-run hospital was following screening procedures set by the government.
“We are checking everybody’s temperature when they enter the hospital,” she told UCA News.
Veronica Erna Hidayati, a Catholic mother of an eighth-grader at Canisius College in Jakarta, says fears over the virus have increased since the government announced the first two Covid-19 cases early this month.
She said her son’s school has banned overseas trips for the time being.
“I’ve told my son not to share drinks with his classmates and to wash his hands regularly,” she said.
Several dioceses, including Jakarta Archdiocese, have offered similar advice to churchgoers. They have also suggested that Catholics suffering from respiratory problems should stay at home, while Massgoers should receive Holy Communion by hand.
As of March 10, Covid-19 had infected more than 113,000 people worldwide and killed more than 4,000, according to a CNN tally.