TEMPO.CO, Amsterdam - Joey Schouten from the Netherlands may have been the first confirmed Corona patient in Indonesia when he fell ill there in January, Schouten told Tempo on Friday, March 27.
Schouten, who is currently in Spain, told Tempo in a written message that he was treated in three hospitals while he was ill in East Java in January 2020. “I was treated at Budi (Rahayu) Hospital in Blitar, Aisyiyah Hospital, and Saiful (Anwar) Hospital. This was in the middle of January,” Joey said.
During his illness, the hospitals never mentioned the Corona virus. “At that time, Corona was new,” Joey, 21, told Tempo. “I barely knew of its existence, and thus did not link it to what I had then.”
Eindhovens Dagblad was the first daily to publish Joey’s story on March 20. To the Dutch daily, Joey said it was only after Covid-19 started spreading worldwide that he began wondering if he had caught the virus. He then contacted the hospital in Indonesia, asking it to check his blood samples.
Joey then said that he received a WhatsApp message on March 19 from Malang’s Aisyiyah Hospital, a screenshot of which was published in the story. The WhatsApp said that it came from “Dhea Daritsh from RSI Aisyiyah Malang”. It thanked Joey for his stay on January 22, 2020. “From your blood tests then, we can tell you that the results came out positive for the Corona virus (COVID-19) during your stay at the hospital.”
Following the publication, however, the Aisyiyah Hospital said in a statement on March 21 that it had never treated a patient named Joey Schouten. The hospital also said that it does not have an employee with the name of Dhea Daritsh.
Asked by Tempo about the WhatsApp message, Schouten answered on Friday that the message “came from the RSI hospital.” The full name of the hospital is RS Islam Aisyiyah Malang, better known as RSI Aisyiyah. “I suspect that it came from someone from the reception, and I also suspect that a nickname was used instead of the real name.”
To the Eindhovens Dagblad, Joey said that he flew to Singapore in early January. While in Singapore, he also visited the city’s Chinatown, where at the time many Chinese tourists were shopping for the upcoming Chinese New Year.
From Singapore, Joey flew to East Java, and fell ill a few days after that. “I had a fever of 41 degrees. For the first time in my life I passed out,” Joey said as quoted by the daily. He was taken to Aisyiyah hospital, where he said his blood was tapped up to six times. “The doctors there thought I had a bad flu, and gave me some medicine.”
Once he felt better, Joey returned to the Netherlands to visit his mother, and then flew to Malaga where his father lives.
Marcel Bosmans, a reporter for the Gemerts Nieuwsblad who interviewed Joey by telephone last week, told Tempo that Joey was still in Spain. “He said he is in good health,” said Bosmans, whose publication is the local paper of Gemert, a small town in the south of the Netherlands, where Joey Schouten grew up.
Commenting on reports from Indonesia questioning the accuracy of Schouten’s story, Bosmans said: “Joey said that he still has the WhatsApp message, and also a bill from the hospital.”
Linawati Sidarto (Amsterdam)