Indonesia has 264 million people, over 2 million tourists from China, but 0 reported cases of coronavirus

That's a lot of people.

Nyi Nyi Thet | February 06, 2020, 02:02 PM

The coronavirus has spread to over 20 countries. There have been two deaths out of mainland China, although both had travel history to Wuhan as well as pre-existing conditions.

Coronavirus infection in Southeast Asia

Outside of China, the region most affected by the virus might very well be Southeast Asia. Both Thailand and Singapore have a total of 53 cases. There appears to be around 80 confirmed cases in the region, with one death, a 44-year-old Chinese man, in The Philippines.

In the midst of all this, Indonesia, by far the largest country in the region, currently has no reported cases of the virus.

Indonesia has a population of 264 million, with over two million tourists from China in 2018. China was Indonesia's number one source of tourists, overtaking Singapore, in 2016.

Indonesia however has commented publicly multiple times on the need to remain vigilant even as no cases have been confirmed.

Indonesia's response to virus outbreak

On January 28, Indonesian Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto said that all the steps had been taken to ensure no outbreak.

According to CNA, Putranto also believed that "if we pray together we shall be spared by the outbreak".

Here are some of the steps Indonesia has taken to ensure there be no outbreak:

  • Repatriating over 200 citizens from Wuhan and other cities in China,
  • Evacuating over 200 Indonesian residents from Wuhan,
  • Banning all travellers from China. The ban implemented in spite of China's protest.

5,000 Chinese nationals are now stuck in Bali after Indonesia banned flights to and from mainland China.

Basically all the measures that countries like Singapore, U.S., and The Philippines have implemented.

With not one confirmed case yet.

Might already be in the country

However, on January 31, 2020, Australian media, Sydney Morning Herald, reported that there are most probably undiagnosed cases in the country.

They also reported that they could confirm that Indonesia lacked the "testing kits needed to rapidly detect the Wuhan coronavirus" according to their source, Amin Soebandrio, who is "one of the country's leading molecular biologists".

The Indonesian government responded to reports of under-preparedness by stating they had "all the equipment needed" to detect the coronavirus.

However, despite assurances that Indonesia appears to be on top of the coronavirus, the World Health Organisation (WHO) is "concerned".

In another article by SMH, WHO's representative to Indonesia, Navaratnasamy Paranietharan, expressed concern that Indonesia had not reported any confirmed cases despite the size of the country.

He however also stated that WHO has been assured by Indonesian authorities that the lab testing has been working well.

Restaurants in Indonesia have also taken steps to take bats off their menus as well, presumably a response to the purported carriers of the coronavirus.


Image from IqbalNuril/Pixabay