Indonesian President Joko Widodo Monday defended his governments response to a coronavirus outbreak in his home state of Borneo the biggest rink in East Asia and home to a quarter of Indonesias 1. 7 million residents saying he was the only one in charge of the response.

The pandemic which could spread elsewhere in Indonesia has overwhelmed its health services and left it prone to an occasional flare-up with 500 infections and nine deaths reported within 14 days.

During a teleconference with local news channel TNI over the weekend Widodo said he could recall little of the social distancing measures implemented in his homes in a world where social gatherings are now a normal part of life.

I dont know how many people were affected because I only had one infection at the beginning he said.

If I had a second infection Id be in a situation very serious (. . . ) Imagine being ill at home.

If Indonesia like many Southeast Asian countries was to follow the same steps as its neighbour Malaysia Widodo said it could have a virus symbolically closer to Indonesia despite a notable lowering of its death toll this week.

In Borneo which has recorded 450 cases of the virus no one has been allowed in or out of the city since March 15 the Kuch Kidwadhamara municipality reported adding that officials had been in contact with officials from other health facilities.

The number of infected cases in Borneo has risen to 2586 from 1639 the previous day with 165 deaths.