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Singapore 'not epicentre of coronavirus outbreak'

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Indonesian Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto said yesterday that Singapore is not the "epicentre" of the coronavirus outbreak despite the rise in the number of confirmed cases in the Republic.

He also said the immigration and health authorities of the two countries are working together to prevent infected patients from entering Indonesia.

"We are working with the Singapore (health) ministry as well as the immigration. They always warn us whenever anyone is infected," he told reporters.

"Please don't be confused. Singapore is not the epicentre, but mainland China is, as declared by the World Health Organisation."

He added: "We will always check (with Singapore authorities). No country will deliberately let any of its sick citizens enter another country. That's because of our good relationship and friendship."

Mr Terawan made the statement in response to queries by the media on whether Indonesia would enhance its monitoring of inbound travellers from Singapore, which has confirmed 77 cases of infected patients as of yesterday.

Indonesia has so far tested 104 cases, but 102 came back negative with another two still pending, according to figures from the Health Ministry.

Mr Terawan said Indonesia took a "rational" attitude on tackling the Covid-19 outbreak by selectively checking people as it was more efficient.

"Those we check must show symptoms, and we'll check their travel history, their contacts," he said.

Speaking at the same press conference, Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy refuted concerns over Indonesia's capability to detect the disease.

He said Indonesia has collaborated with the US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention to provide the reagent used to detect the virus. - THE STRAITS TIMES