Update COVID-19 in Indonesia: 365,240 confirmed infections, 12,617 deaths (19 October 2020)
19 October 2020 (closed)
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Indonesian government officials confirmed that there was one case of the Zika virus in the country but emphasized that there is no need for panic. This case occurred in early 2015 in Jambi (Sumatra) and was discovered when researchers studied specimens during a dengue fever outbreak. The infected person recovered and there are no reports of other cases. Meanwhile, the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared this mosquito-borne virus a global emergency after having spread in South and Central America as well as the Caribbean. Asia is also vulnerable as the mosquito thrives in congested cities.
Research institute the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta said there was one confirmed case in Jambi (Sumatra) 2015, involving a 27-year old man who recovered after a few days. However, the Eijkman institute believes that there are more cases of Zika within the country. However, these cases are likely to be misdiagnosed as dengue fever because both illnesses share the same symptoms. Professor Herawati Sudoyo, Deputy Director at the Eijkman Institute, added that two Australians were detected to be infected by the Zika virus after spending a holiday in Jakarta and Bali. The disease was detected when they had already returned to Australia.
The Jambi case is not the first case of the Zika virus in Indonesia. Other cases were found in Klaten (Central Java) and West Nusa Tenggara in 1978 and 1981. Mosquito-borne illnesses are no stranger to Indonesia. The country has to cope with frequent outbreaks of dengue fever and malaria.
During a cabinet meeting in Jakarta, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the country needs to take anticipatory measures and enhance monitoring at the country's points of entry in order to avert an outbreak of the Zika virus in Indonesia. The anticipatory measures are the same measures that are used to combat dengue fever i.e. destroying potential mosquito breeding places (especially in locations near standing water). Furthermore, the government stationed more officers at ports where foreigners enter Indonesia. These officers will be on the lookout for people coming from Zika-affected regions and who show symptoms of the disease.
The WHO warned that the Zika virus, caused by the bite of the Aedes Aedyptii mosquito, is spreading rapidly in the Americas, while other parts of the world need to be on the lookout. The Switzerland-based institution expects to see between 3 million and 4 million Zika cases in 2016. The disease, first discovered in Uganda in 1947, has symptoms similar to those of dengue fever - such as fever, headache, rash, joint pain and conjunctivitis. It is suspected that birth defects (including microcephaly) can occur when pregnant women become infected by the Zika virus.