Coronavirus: Chinese workers quarantined on Indonesian project

Five Chinese construction workers who returned to Indonesia in the last week for a hydropower plant project have been quarantined to prevent the possible spread of the coronavirus.

They were placed in isolation at the site of the Laubiang hydropower project in Kandibata village in the Karo regency, North Sumatra, reports the Jakarta Post.

Three returned from China on Friday, 31 January and two returned on Monday, 3 February, the local health agency told the newspaper.

They are under observation, and would be taken to a designated hospital if they showed symptoms of the virus. None had traveled from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.

Many Chinese workers had been hired for the project, its overseer told the Post, suggesting most were still stuck in China, where many cities are in lockdown.

The action came as the number of confirmed cases globally today jumped to 31,515 – all but 312 in mainland China – more than doubling the number recorded six days ago. 

Total deaths today stood at 638, all but 20 of those in mainland China.

This quarantine in Karo regency signals the potential widespread disruption of infrastructure projects being carried out by Chinese companies elsewhere in Asia and Africa.

Meanwhile, concerns have been raised over the potential under-recording of the virus in Asian countries.

Scientists from Harvard’s School of Public Health analysed the number of passengers flying to countries from Wuhan during the outbreak and before travel was restricted.

In a discussion paper rushed out this week on 5 February, they identified Indonesia, Cambodia and Thailand as countries reporting fewer cases than might be expected given travel patterns. 

Indonesia has recorded no cases yet, while Cambodia has recorded one. Thailand’s 25 recorded cases, a figure the scientists said was below what their model predicted.

Image: ©GCR, illustration by Denis Carrier

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