Suspected COVID-19 patient dies of swine flu in Indonesia

Although Indonesia's health ministry confirmed that the patient died due to H1N1, his burial in accordance with coronavirus containment procedures raises suspicion

Indonesia's Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto informed on Thursday that a suspected Covid-19 patient, who died on February 23 in Semarang, Central Java, tested positive for H1N1 virus (swine flu). The patient died due to bronchopneumonia, a disease that gradually damages the lungs.

Suspected coronavirus patient dies of swine flu

Workers make face masks at the workshop of a company in Wuhan, central China's Hubei Province, Jan. 28, 2020. To help fight the outbreak of pneumonia caused by novel coronavirus, workers of local medical material companies in Hubei Province rushed back to work to make protective masks, clothing and other protective equipment to guarantee the supplies. (Xinhua/Cai YangIANS) Xinhua/IANS

"It was not COVID-19; we only found H1N1, which is a typical flu. It was verified twice through polymerase chain reaction [PCR] testing. [The patient] tested negative for the Wuhan coronavirus both times," Putranto, said, as reported by Jakarta Post.

"The medication for H1N1 is widely available. It's called ometamisir; the Health Ministry has an entire supply of it," the minister added further. On being questioned, why the patient displayed symptoms of a coronavirus patient, the minister said that the viruses were similar.

What are the suspicions surrounding the patient's death?

On Wednesday, Agoes Oerip Poerwoko, hospital's medical and treatment director, described the cremation procedure of the patient. The procedure adopted raised questions whether the patient was in fact infected with the novel coronavirus.

"Those in charge of the burial wore protective gear, including masks, in accordance with the procedure. The path to the morgue was cordoned off. The body itself was wrapped in plastic to prevent visiting family members from being infected by the virus," Agoes said.

Coronavirus in Indonesia

Surprisingly, the novel coronavirus epidemic that has spread to over 45 countries hasn't been able to make inroads into Indonesia. The south-east Asian nation has yet to report any case of coronavirus infection. Indonesian Health Minister made a statement that God had protected his country from coronavirus.

The disease first originated in Chinese city Wuhan, capital of its Hubei province and has now spread to every continent, except Antarctica. More than 83,000 cases have been reported from around the world, along with over 2,800 fatalities. Majority of cases and fatalities have been reported in mainland China itself, with South Korea emerging as its second centre, reporting 2,337 cases and 13 fatalities, till now.

Related topics : Coronavirus