Indonesian health minister says zero coronavirus cases in country a “blessing from the Almighty”

Indonesia’s health minister Terawan Agus Putranto told the media yesterday (27 Feb) that the absence of confirmed cases of coronavirus in Indonesia is a “blessing from the Almighty”.

He said 134 test samples taken from people suspected of having the coronavirus had turned out negative. “If until this second all came out negative, then it’s a blessing from the Almighty,” he told reporters.

Putranto also commented that tests on two patients who died this week after suffering symptoms associated with the virus had been negative.

On Feb. 23, a Singaporean man died after reportedly suffering fever and shortness of breath in Batam, but the head of the local health authorities said this was not due to COVID-19 but another unspecified disease.

And with regard to the death of a 37-year-old man in Central Java who was suffering pneumonia after returning from overseas was also not caused by the coronavirus, but by H1N1 flu, Putranto added.

When asked why relatively few people in Indonesia were tested for the virus in comparison to some neighbors and its population, Putranto said tests were conducted when “doctors determine they have symptoms that point to that direction.”

“Imagine if everybody who had a cough or flu was checked, then millions would be checked,” he said.

Indonesia the 4th-most populous nation on Earth

Indonesia is the fourth-most populous nation in the world, with a population of 260 million. It is also a popular tourist destination known for its sands and beaches.

Bali, for example, has been a very popular tourist destination for mainland Chinese in recent times. In fact, early this month when the Indonesian government halted flights between Indonesia and China, thousands of Chinese tourists were reported to be stranded in Bali.

Indonesia presently bars entry to visitors who have been in China for 14 days and has stopped all flights to and from there.

As of today (28 Feb), the virus has spread to 54 countries and territories in the world with more than 80,000 infected resulting in close to 3,000 deaths. Most of the infections and deaths occurred in China. Indonesia has not recorded a single case of COVID-19 infections.

Meanwhile, according to statistics from Singapore Tourism Board, Indonesia ranked 2nd in terms of number of international visitors arriving in Singapore, after China. Last year, 3.6 million Chinese visited Singapore followed by 3.1 million Indonesians.

COVID-19 outbreak by country and territory (as of 28 Feb)

Country or territoryConfirmedDeathsRecoveries
China78,8242,78836,117
South Korea2,0221326
International conveyance705410
Italy6551745
Iran2452621
Japan214440
Singapore96066
Hong Kong93226
United States6006
Germany45015
Kuwait430
Thailand40027
France38212
Bahrain330
Taiwan3216
Spain2502
Australia23015
Malaysia23022
United Arab Emirates1905
United Kingdom1608
Vietnam16016
Canada1308
Macau1008
Iraq70
Sweden70
Oman60
Switzerland60
Austria50
Norway40
Croatia30
Greece30
Israel30
Lebanon30
Philippines312
India303
Pakistan20
Finland201
Russia202
Afghanistan10
Algeria10
Brazil10
Denmark10
Estonia1