Another five Indonesian crew members of the Diamond Princess have tested positive for the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19, bringing the total number of Indonesians infected on board the cruise ship in Japan to nine as of Monday, the government has confirmed
Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto said the infected Indonesian patients — who are among hundreds of people tested positive on the cruise ship — were currently receiving medical treatment in a hospital in Japan.
“The infected Indonesian citizens are now being treated by the Japanese government, all nine of them,” Terawan told journalists in Jakarta on Monday.
Foreign Ministry acting spokesperson Teuku Faizasyah also confirmed on Monday that nine of the 78 Indonesian crew members on the cruise ship had tested positive for the coronavirus.
Although the number of infected continued to grow, Terawan said the government did not want to act without due consideration in regard to the evacuation of the remaining 69 Indonesian crew members of the Diamond Princess who were still reported healthy.
He said the government wanted to ensure that the pick-up process would not cause the spread of the coronavirus to the archipelago since Indonesia still claimed zero cases of COVID-19.
“We, the government, prioritize 260 million people [in Indonesia] surviving while we take action to save our citizens in Japan,” Terawan said.
“We can’t just take a rash decision, we can’t. The stakes are huge. I also want to ask the media to help us in this, so that we can remain in the green zone.”
Terawan said the government was currently negotiating with Japan on options to evacuate the healthy Indonesian crew members whether by sea or air.
At the same time, he said, the government was still mulling over the necessary measures after they arrived home.
The ministry’s Disease Control and Environmental Health Directorate General secretary, Achmad Yurianto, previously said that the government planned to put the remaining crew members into a 28-day quarantine, or twice the incubation period of the coronavirus.
The decision was made after at least 634 of the 3,711 people on board the British-American-owned Diamond Princess — which ended its two-week quarantine period on Feb. 19 in Yokohama— tested positive for the virus.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) head Doni Monardo has stated his willingness to help the evacuation process of healthy Indonesian crew members of the ship.
“The BNPB has made preparations for the later technical steps,” Doni told Kompas on Monday. “All information must be through one door. We are waiting for direction from the health minister.”