Infected at Bukit Merah
An Indonesian worker has become the 21st victim of the coronavirus in Singapore. Indonesian workers are currently bearing the brunt of stigmatization because of the case.
THE bad news reached I Gde Ngurah Swajaya on Monday, February 3. The Indonesian ambassador to Singapore received information through his cell phone from an official of the Singaporean health ministry that an Indonesian citizen had been exposed to the coronavirus. The citizen had been put in isolation at the Singapore General Hospital in Outram Road. “I immediately dispatched my staff to check it out,” said Swajaya when contacted by Tempo on Thursday, February 6.
But said Swajaya, the embassy staff member was unable to meet the patient under care at the hospital. Singapore complies to the law of protection of personal information. Without their consent, the identity of any patient will not be given out. The embassy staff only left a phone number and that of Swajaya’s to be contacted whenever the patient from Indonesia was in need of assistance.
Director of Indonesian Citizens and Legal Entities Protection at the Foreign Affairs Ministry Judha Nugraha said there has been no contact from the 44-year-old female patient up to Friday, February 7. “But her condition has stabilized,” he said. Presiden Joko Widodo has given over the matter to the Singaporean authorities and the Indonesian Embassy there. “Let Singaporer finish handling it first,” he said, Wednesday, February 5.
...based on Singaporean government reports, the patient has never travelled to China. “She never leaves the house and was exposed to the virus by her employer,” said Swajaya.
This Indonesian citizen is recorded as the 21st person diagnosed positive with infection of the coronavirus in Singapore. Up to February 7, Singapore recorded 33 corona positive patients, 11 of whom are local citizens. Singapore’s ministry of health official website, moh.gov.sg, gave information that the Indonesian patient works at a household in Bukit Merah Road, about 4.2 kilometers from Orchard Road.
On Sunday, February 2, the woman was feverish and suffered a sore throat. She was rushed to the emergency unit at Singapore General Hospital. Later, the medical team there diagnosed the patient as sustaining the coronavirus. Said Swajaya, based on Singaporean government reports, the patient has never travelled to China. “She never leaves the house and was exposed to the virus by her employer,” said Swajaya.
The employer works in a shop selling health products, Yong Thai Hang, in Cavan Road. The shop is often visited by travellers from China vacationing in Singapore. On January 29, the 29-year-old woman had a sore throat and suffered fever. She sought medical care at the Tan Tock Seng Hospital and had a lung x-ray. She was diagnosed negative for pneumonia.
Because the symptoms did not abate, the woman sought treatment at the Singapore General Hospital. On January 3, she was diagnosed positive with the coronavirus. Swajaya said her male employer and the tourist guide who came to the Yong Thai Hang shop were also infected with the virus. “We have instructed all Indonesian citizens in Singapore to wear a mask, to take care of their health and not to panic,” he said.
Alissa—not her real name—an Indonesian worker in Singapore said, because of the coronavirus contagion, many employers now ask their Indonesian domestic help to stay put in the house. “If usually we take the boss’s children to the mall every week, we now have to stay at home,” said the woman who hails from East Java.
The 31-year-old said, the virus from Wuhan has also caused stigmatization towards workers. She told the story of how a friend of hers planned to return to Indonesia, but was refused by her own family who were scared of becoming infected with corona. “She was asked to not come back until the contagion had abated,” she said.