Death from the Market
Positive Corona cases continue to be high in 16 provinces. Market places are among the disease centers.
DONNING hazardous material clothing, several city health officials visited Tambakrejo in Gayamsari subdistrict, Semarang, Central Java, on Wednesday, June 17. At the yard of the elementary school, they conducted a mass polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab test. Six days prior, Ahmad Khotib attended a wedding at the area. Afterwards, it turned out that some had contracted the coronavirus.
Khotib, 41, was present at the schoolyard testing. A few hours afterwards, the Semarang health services said he was tested positive for coronavirus. Khotib immediately set up a tent in his living room. In it, he isolated himself. “I don’t have any symptoms. The health officials even allowed me to smoke and drink coffee,” Khotib said in Semarang on July 2.
Khotib was not sure if he got infected at his neighbor’s wedding. He noted that the ceremony was carried out according to health protocols. The couple’s religious ceremony held inside the house was only attended by six people. Other guests—not more than 20 people—all waited on the veranda. The host also provided water, soap, hand sanitizer, and masks. Later, second and third tests for Khotib turned out negative.
The Corona cluster from the Semarang wedding started when the parents and a sibling of the bride complained of coughs and fevers on June 13, two days after the wedding. Hamid Zainusshofi, the bride’s cousin who also attended the event, explained that they went together to the Sultan Agung Islamic Hospital on that same day to get treatment.
Prior to going to the hospital, the bride’s sibling took a rapid test at a private clinic, which turned out negative. However, after a chest X-ray, the physician found a spot on the lungs, and sent him off to the hospital. After staying overnight there, he died on June 14. The next day, the bride’s mother—who was also kept at the hospital—also passed away. Hamid said that the mother, 58, had a uterus infection in addition to complaints that matched Covid-19 symptoms. The bride’s father was also treated at the hospital. On June 24, he was proclaimed healthy.
Semarang Mayor Hendrar Prihadi said the Tambakrejo wedding was a Covid-19 infection cluster. In addition to the four people mentioned above, two other guests were identified as positive for the virus. Hendrar said the transmission occurred since the wedding organizers did not follow health protocols set by the government. “According to reports, there were more than 30 guests there,” he said.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic was first announced in March, the highest number of those testing positive in Semarang was 256 cases on June 11. After going down for a week after that, it jumped further to 682 positive cases on July 3. Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo dubbed Semarang as a red zone when President Joko Widodo visited the province on June 30.
East Java also suffered a jolt in cases. Together with Central Java, the former is included in the list of 16 provinces where Corona cases kept rising for two weeks since the middle of June. Based on the data of the Covid-19 rapid response task force, East Java has an average of 249.4 new cases a day, making it the highest number in Indonesia. One area in East Java included in the red zone is the Sampang Regency. On July 3, there were 117 positive cases there.
In that region, one family with five members—all paramedics—were infected with coronavirus. Suwito, 70, died at Sampang’s Mohammad Zyn Regional General Hospital on June 7. Test results showed that this former nurse at the Kedungdung public health center had the coronavirus. The following day his wife, Sri Rahayu, passed away. Sri, who worked as a midwife at the Kamoning public health center, was confirmed as having contracted Corona.
During the Ramadan fasting month period in May, a Kebon Semai market trader who was identified as a patient under surveillance had died. The Palembang health authorities then proceeded to trace with whom he had physical contact with. Yudi Setiawan, spokesperson for Palembang’s Covid-19 task force, said the authorities have examined almost 200 market traders. “There were 33 of them who tested positive.”
One day after Sri was buried, Deny Dwi Yulianto, the family’s youngest child, started feeling unwell. However, this doctor at the Tambelangan public health center only sought treatment at the Mohammad Zyn Hospital on June 11. Deny took the rapid molecular test, which turned out positive. The doctors then sent him to Surabaya’s Airlangga University Hospital. After being in isolation for three days, Deny passed away. On July 3, Deny’s wife—also a physician—was treated in isolation at the same hospital as she also contracted the feared virus.
The eldest son of the Suwito family, Anang Eka Kurniawan—a doctor at the Socah public health center—died on June 19. Based on tracing done by the Sampang health office, the virus is believed to have been brought home by Suwito. “It is believed that the father was the first one to be infected,” said Agus Mulyanto, head of the Sampang health office.
Juwardi, spokesperson for Sampang’s Covid-19 task force, said that based on the cluster data he had received, virus spread in Sampang mostly derive from markets and health facilities. He further said that Suwito opened a medical treatment practice at his home since March. His patients mostly came from Surabaya. “The ones who came for treatment were migrant workers,” Juwardi said.
South Sumatra also saw a jump in Corona infections. Based on the Covid-19 task force, the average number of new daily additions of cases in the past two weeks was 45.71. Until July 3, South Sumatra had 2,156 positive coronavirus cases. The Covid-19 task force there identified traditional markets as one of the centers for the spread of the virus. One of them is the Kebon Semai market palce at the Kemuning subdistrict, Palembang.
During the Ramadan fasting month period in May, a Kebon Semai market trader who was identified as a patient under surveillance had died. The Palembang health authorities then proceeded to trace with whom he had physical contact with. Yudi Setiawan, spokesperson for Palembang’s Covid-19 task force, said the authorities have examined almost 200 market traders. “There were 33 of them who tested positive,” Yudi said.
He further said that the authorities proceeded to close Kebon Semai for 13 days starting on May 26. After the market reopened on June 7, activities slowly started again there, though it remained relatively quiet. “There are more sellers than buyers,” said Rohman, a trader at the market.
Wiku Adisasmito, head of the Covid-19 rapid response task force’s expert team, said a spike in cases in the regions does not necessarily indicate a second wave of coronavirus. He said that the increase in the number of positive cases is a sign of additional testing and contact tracing. Even so, he stressed that the increase is an alarm bell for regional administrations to step up prevention. “Regions where the number of cases is consistently high must tighten up preventive measures, while regions where the numbers are flattening out can relax a bit,” he said.