Indonesia plans to build a hospital to treat COVID-19 patients at Galang, an island in Riau Province close to Singapore, a senior minister said.
The facility would be constructed with the help of the army and run by the Ministry of health, Indonesian Minister of Public Works and Housing Basuki Hadimuljono told reporters in Jakarta yesterday.
The hospital, about an hour away from Hang Nadim International Airport in Batam, would be more easily accessible than Sebaru Island near Jakarta, where about 250 evacuees from two cruise ships are quarantined, he said.
Indonesia reported its first two cases of COVID-19 infections on Monday, as the deadly epidemic continued to spread outside of China, the epicenter of the outbreak.
The two patients, being treated in a hospital in Jakarta, are stable, government spokesman Achmad Yurianto said.
While two other family members of the infected Indonesians tested negative for the virus, authorities are still tracking about 50 members of a dance community that was frequented by one of the patients, Yurianto said.
About 180 crew members of the World Dream cruise ship who were evacuated by authorities tested negative for the virus, while 60 of the 69 crew members of the Diamond Princess cruise ship were also free from infection, he said.
Indonesia had quarantined 243 people on the island of Natuna after they were evacuated from the city of Wuhan and other parts of China.
The move was protested by the locals, prompting authorities to say it would scout for an uninhabited island in the archipelago to quarantine and treat infectious disease patients.
Galang was once used as a refugee camp by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees to accommodate more than 170,000 people who fled conflict in Southeast Asia, according to the UN agency. The camp was closed in 1996.
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