International Asia Singaporean died in Batam of Covid-19-like infection, but health authorities say he...

Singaporean died in Batam of Covid-19-like infection, but health authorities say he tested negative for coronavirus

According to Didi Kusumajadi, who heads the Batam Health Agency, the sample his office sent to the laboratory of the Health Ministry came back negative for the virus although he had a fever and breathing difficulties

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A 61-year-old Singaporean died in Batam on Saturday (Feb 22), having shown symptoms similar to Covid-19, the coronavirus originating from China that has swept around the world, infecting 82,000 people with a death toll of nearly 3,000. However the Batam Health Agency said that the test results of the man had turned out to be negative.

The Jakarta Post reported on Wednesday (Feb 26) that the patient, who has only been identified as AA, went to Awal Bros Hospital in Batam at noon on February 20. Cynthia Latuma, the hospital’s spokesperson, told The Jakarta Post that the patient ran a fever and was experiencing shortness of breath. He was then referred to BP Batam Hospital, which is designated to handle coronavirus cases.

The patient has an Indonesian wife who lives in Batam.

Ms Latuma said, “He had just returned from Singapore, and he had a fever. We thought that he might have the coronavirus infection, although we did not know for sure. To mitigate the risks, we sent him to BP Batam Hospital, which is the referral hospital for coronavirus.”

According to Didi Kusumajadi, who heads the Batam Health Agency, the sample his office sent to the laboratory of the Health Ministry came back negative for the virus.

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The samples had been sent to the Health Ministry on February 21, but the patient died the following day, even before the results came back, according to Achmad Farchanny, the head of the Batam Port Health Office (KKP).

Mr Farchanny told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday (Feb 26), “We knew from the start that the man was not a COVID-19 patient because he was a regular patient at Awal Bros because of his illness. The Health Ministry lab also showed that the result came back negative from the lab.”

Contrary to what Ms Latuma said, Mr Farchanny claimed that the patient had not been referred to BP Batam Hospital over suspicions that he had Covid-19. He said, “He was referred [to BP Batam Hospital] because of what we call risk management. This is a term that hospital staff already understand well. It means a patient is referred to another hospital that is more competent in that area.”

But AA’s remains have yet to be repatriated.

The patient’s body is still in the custody of the hospital in accordance with Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC) procedures in Singapore, Mr Farchanny added.

The PHEIC refers to “an extraordinary event, which is determined to constitute a public health risk to other states through the international spread of disease; and to potentially require a coordinated international response,” according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO adds, “This definition implies a situation that is serious, unusual or unexpected; carries implications for public health beyond the affected state’s national border; and may require immediate international action.”

Mr Farchanny said, “This is a matter of global ethics in relation to Singapore, so the body is still in the morgue.”

In the meantime, a traditional Islamic funeral was held for him on the day of his death, but his wife and two daughters, being in mourning still, have chosen not to comment.

Singapore currently has 96 cases of Covid-19, with 66 patients already discharged, having fully recovered from the coronavirus. One of the patients who has recovered from the coronavirus is an Indonesian worker. Eight patients are in intensive care. There have been no fatalities, however.

Indonesia has had no confirmed cases of Covid-19, although eight crew members from Indonesia on the Diamond Princess cruise liner in Japan have tested positive for the coronavirus.

Agus Putranto, the country’s Health Minister, said on Thursday (Feb 27) that 134 tests of people suspected to be infected have come out negative. He told the press, “If until this second all came out negative, then it’s a blessing from the Almighty.”

Another patient with Covid-19-like symptoms died in Central Java this week. The patient had recently travelled through Spain and Dubai and experienced fever, cough, and shortness of breath when he arrived on February 12 in Indonesia.

According to Agoes Oerip Poerwoko, the medical and nursing director of Kariadi Central General Hospital, where the patient was warded, he “died not from the coronavirus, but due to severe breathing difficulties. The result of a laboratory test from the Health Ministry’s research and development center came out a day after the patient was buried, and it showed he tested negative for the coronavirus.” —/TISG

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