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Indonesian gov’t says it was unaware one of its top ministers had COVID-19

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Should a top government official make it known to the public if they test positive for COVID-19? The topic is being widely discussed in Indonesia after one of the country’s top ministers revealed that he was diagnosed with the viral disease… in 2020.

Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto, who also heads the COVID-19 Handling and Economic Recovery Committee, indirectly made the bombshell of a revelation when he donated his blood for convalescent plasma therapy on Monday. Only those who have recovered from COVID-19 can donate blood for the procedure.

“Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto tested positive for COVID-19 in 2020,” the ministry’s spokeswoman Alia Karenina said in a press release today.

“As an expression of gratitude for his health and recovery from COVID-19, he donated his convalescent plasma to help speed up the recovery of other COVID-19 patients.”

The release did not disclose when exactly Airlangga contracted COVID-19, but Tirto noted in its report that the publication’s queries about the whereabouts of the chief economic minister went unanswered by the ministry for a three-week stretch between November and December. Airlangga notably failed to show up at several events during the period. 

Though Airlangga’s job requires him to constantly report to President Joko Widodo, the Presidential Palace said it wasn’t aware that Airlangga had COVID-19 last year. The Palace said it’s every minister’s prerogative whether or not they want to announce their COVID-19 diagnosis to the public. 

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