At Jakarta’s State Palace, President Joko Widodo told local media the people infected — a 64-year-old mother and her 31-year-old daughter from West Java — had been in contact with a Japanese citizen who later tested positive for the virus.
He said this prompted Indonesian authorities to track down and test the two women after they were notified of the Japanese citizen’s positive test result on February 27.
Indonesia’s Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto confirmed the two women were being treated at Jakarta’s Sulianti Saroso Infectious Diseases Hospital.
The news comes after the Indonesian Government evacuated dozens of Indonesian staff working on the COVID-19-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship yesterday, after they pleaded for an official evacuation last week.
The ship has since been linked to hundreds of new infections after all staff and passengers were put into quarantine on board while anchored at Yokohama in early February.
So far, the virus has killed more than 3,000 people worldwide and infected more than 89,000, according to data collated by Johns Hopkins University.
In all, more than 45,000 people have recovered from the infection.
‘Over 100 hospitals with good isolation standards’
Mr Widodo sought to allay fears that the world’s fourth-most populous country was lagging behind other countries in being able to prepare for and identify coronavirus cases.
“We have prepared over 100 hospitals with isolation rooms with good isolation standards. We also have equipment that meets international standards,” he said.
Up until today, Indonesia had maintained that it was free from the virus, which led experts to question quarantine and screening procedures in the archipelago of more than 270 million.
There have also been calls to close self-proclaimed “extreme” meat markets in Indonesia’s regional provinces, which sell species for human consumption including bats, rats, snakes and dogs.
Exotic animals consumed by humans have previously been the trigger for previous coronavirus outbreaks including the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), owing to civets (a cat-like animal) and camels respectively.
Previously, when asked how it was possible Indonesia had no confirmed cases, the Health Minister, Mr Putranto, pinned it to divine intervention.
“In medical terms, prayers,” he said.
“All because of prayers.”