Fri, 09 May 2003

Names of RI SARS victims released

Fabiola Desy Unidjaja and Sari P. Setiogi, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The government finally announced on Thursday the identity of three Indonesians who died of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) in Taiwan, five days after their deaths were first reported.

Foreign minister Hassan Wirayuda told a press briefing on Thursday that the three Indonesians were identified as Sri Rejeki, Ubaidiyah, and Rosita, all nurses working at a Taipei hospital.

"The families of the deceased have been informed, but we cannot give more details," the minister said.

Hassan said another Indonesian victim, identified as Elvy Naturahyani, was being treated in Taipei.

The minister further said that the remains of the three Indonesian nurses had been cremated several days ago as it was the procedure in Taiwan.

"It was difficult for us to get detailed information earlier because we only have a trade representative office in the country," Hassan reasoned.

Indonesia has no diplomatic relations with Taiwan due to its acceptance of the one-China policy. Both countries only have trade representative offices to handle problems arising between both countries.

The deaths of the three nurses were first reported on Sunday but only on Thursday were their identities clear.

On Wednesday, Minister for Manpower and Transmigration Jacob Nuwa Wea said only one Indonesian worker had died of the deadly disease in Taiwan.

Meanwhile, as part of efforts to curtail the spread of SARS, the government plans to establish a laboratory to detect the virus in Mataram, West Nusa Tenggara.

"The laboratory would be available for initial etiology tests for SARS," said secretary to the director general for communicable diseases eradication and environment health (P2M), Syafii Anwar, on Thursday.

However, for further laboratory tests, Indonesia would rely on the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, United States.

Syafii asserted that so far there was no community transmission occurring in the country.

The latest patient, an 81-year old Indonesian man who had just returned from Singapore, classified as a SARS-observed case, was detected in a hospital in Batam.