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Coronavirus live update: Indonesia reports first case as second person dies in US - MW

The confirmation of two coronavirus cases in Indonesia - the first to be reported in the world’s fourth most populous country - follows mounting concern that the country is failing to identify transmission of the virus.

Health experts have warned that the lack of confirmed patients in Indonesia, a country of 272 million people, was surprising, especially given its close links to China.

Last month, researchers at Harvard University analysed air traffic from Wuhan, the Chinese city where the outbreak originated, and concluded case numbers were lower than expected. They also raised concerns about other Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Cambodia. At the time, Indonesian health minister Terawan Agus Putranto called the study “insulting”.

Further concerns were raised when New Zealand and Malaysia reported that patients who tested positive for their disease within their borders had recently traveled to Indonesia.

On Saturday, Ary Hermawan of the Jakarta Post, questioned whether officials were being transparent, adding that the government appeared more worried “about the social and economic impact of a mass hysteria created by the virus outbreak than the outbreak itself”.

Indonesia’s Balitbangkes, the sole agency tasked with testing suspected coronavirus patients, had only concluded around 140 lab tests, he wrote. “To put things in perspective, as of 26 February, the United Kingdom has conducted 7,132 tests, 13 of which have come back positive.”

Details of the two cases confirmed by officials on Monday are not yet known, though Indonesian President Joko Widodo said both patients were Indonesians and that they had been hospitalised.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo said on Monday two Indonesians had tested positive for coronavirus, marking the first confirmed cases in the world’s fourth most populous country.

The two had been hospitalised, Widodo told reporters at the presidential palace in Jakarta. He did not specify where the patients were being treated.



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