All 168 people quarantined at the Hotel Katua's have been tested for the virus, authorities said. (Image/Eugénio Pereira)

DILI, 15 April 2020 (TATOLI) – The number of Covid-19 cases in Timor-Leste has risen to eight, with two more students recently returned from Indonesia testing positive, authorities confirmed.

Spokesman from the Integrated Crisis Management Centre (CIGC) Sérgio Lobo the two who tested positive today were transferred to isolation at the Vera Cruz Clinic.

CIGC spokesman, Sérgio Lobo (Image/Egas Cristovão)

“All the positive cases came from the same group, from the same place and have [a] common story: they arrived from the [Indonesian] border on April 1,” Mr Lobo said.

The results bring to seven the number of students quarantined at the Hotel Katua’s who have tested positive to Covid-19. The group arrived by government-chartered bus from the border post, and the CIGC has previously said it was confident the risk of community transmission from the group is low.

Mr Lobo asked all the participants in quarantine to remain calm and follow the rules of the site. He said Timor-Leste is thankful for the “sacrifice” of the group in remaining cooperating.

“Your sacrifice has great value to communities in Timor-Leste, for the reason that you [may] bring the virus with you in your body without showing any symptoms. But with the limitation of social distance, and limitation of movement inside the quarantine during 14 days, you avoid the transmission of this virus to others,” he said.

However, he said the ministry is looking to move the students to another facility.

“The Ministry of Health and [CIGC] are currently identifying ways …to transfer the students quarantined in Hotel Katuas to another place for psychological reasons, because they are traumatised with the place,” he said.

Mr Lobo urged Timor-Leste to maintain their confidence in the government to respond to the pandemic, and to comply with the State of Emgergency decree. In particular, he urged people to stay at home unless for work or essential travel, practice social distancing from others of at least one metre, to wear a mask when in public, and wash hands regularly and thoroughly.

“If we all comply to the standard given above, we will prevent the contamination of Covid-19 in our country,” he said.

There are currently some 569 people serving their 14-days mandatory quarantine in Timor-Leste, mostly in Dili.

The Ministry of Health said 210 people are suspected of carrying the virus; 167 have already tested negative; and 29 are still awaiting test results.

One patient, a foreign national, has since recovered from the virus.

Almost two million people have contracted the illness across the world since the outbreak was first detected on New Year’s Eve in China. 127,153 have died, while 487,624 have recovered.

Journalist: Nelia Borges

Editor: Robert Baird

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