Indonesia, which recently saw its first two confirmed cases of Covid-19, has announced plans to build a hospital for coronavirus patients in Galang Island, Riau archipelago, near Singapore.
Galang Island is located 80 kilometers southeast of Batam and Remplang, which are to the south of both Singapore and Johor.
The country’s Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono told members of the media on Tuesday (Mar 3) that the Indonesian army will help construct the hospital, which will be managed by the country’s health ministry.
Mr Hadimuljono also said that the health facility, which is about an hour away from the airport at Batam, is easier to access than Sebaru Island, which is close to Jakarta.
There are 250 evacuees from two cruise ships who are presently under quarantine at Sebaru Island.
The first confirmed cases of Covid-19 in Indonesia were reported on Monday, March 2. A spokesman from the government, Achmad Yurianto, said that the two patients were stable. They are undergoing treatment in a hospital in Jakarta.
The Health Ministry also announced that laboratories in different regions have been assigned to test people for the coronavirus, and not just the Health Research and Development Agency (Balitbangkes), which is based in Jakarta.
Facilities in Batam, Medan, Palembang, Makassar, Manado, Ambon, Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya and Banjarmasin will now be able to conduct coronavirus tests.
Mr Yurianto said, “With the first confirmed cases, we need to be able to respond faster. The tests will no longer be done in Balitbangkes only.
We will send supervisors to these centers. Now a specimen from Ambon no longer needs to be sent to Jakarta.”
The first two patients are a mother and daughter, who are believed to have gotten infected with the coronavirus after the daughter had an interaction with a Japanese national who came to Jakarta and was later diagnosed to be positive for Covid-19.
Mr Yurianto added that two family members of the confirmed Covid-19 patients have tested negative for the virus, but that 50 other individuals who are members of the dance community that one of the Indonesians positive for the coronavirus went to often are being traced by the authorities so they can undergo testing as well.
He also said that 60 of the 69 crew members of Diamond Princess cruise ship have tested negative for the novel coronavirus, as have around 180 crew members of World Dream cruise ship. The World Dream cruise crew was evacuated by officials.
Indonesians evacuated from Wuhan and other places in China had been quarantined on Natuna island off the northwest coast of Borneo. But local residents, fearful of contagion, were unhappy about this, which led to the search for an uninhabited island for building a facility to treat coronavirus patients.
Galang once housed a United Nations refugee camp for those who were escaping conflict in South East Asia. Over 170,000 people temporarily stayed at the camp at Galang, which closed down in 1996. —/TISG