Funeral service workers carry the coffin of a suspected coronavirus patient at Tegal Alur public cemetery in West Jakarta on March 26. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Coronavirus Death Toll Higher Among Young People in Indonesia


APRIL 29, 2020

Jakarta. The death toll among young people in the Indonesian coronavirus outbreak is higher than that of the elderly, as new confirmed cases continue to fluctuate, according to the government data released on Wednesday.

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country rose by 260 on Wednesday, a significant drop after a new high of 415 a day earlier, to bring the country’s total to 9,771.

The highly fluctuating daily cases mean that it’s very hard to predict when the Indonesian outbreak will reach its peak.

On a more positive note, the number of patients recovering from the illness has been consistently beating Covid-19-related deaths by a huge margin over the last two weeks.

National Covid-19 Task Force spokesman Achmad Yurianto said 1,391 patients have recovered, 137 more than yesterday, while the total death toll increased by 11 to 784.

Contrary to widespread perception that the elderly were at higher risk of deaths from the respiratory illness, Achmad said most of the fatalities included patients aged between 30 and 59, totaling 364 people. 

The second largest group of fatalities comprises patients between 60 and 79 years old with 311 deaths, Achmad said in a daily briefing in Jakarta.

The mortality also includes 28 patients aged 80 or more and 81 patients below the age of 30.

Lack of Testing

The government figure is based on screenings using the polymerase chain reaction methods for more accurate results.

However, only an extremely small portion of the population have taken the tests, raising speculations that the number of cases and deaths is far above the official figure.

"We have so far tested 86,986 specimens from 67,784 people and found 9,771 positive cases," Achmad said.

The number represents only 0.02 percent of the country’s population of more than 272 million people.

The queue for testing is beyond the government’s current capacity, with 221,750 persons under surveillance and 21,653 patients under observation for suspect coronavirus infection.

President Joko Widodo has instructed the task force and the Health Ministry to ramp up testing to 10,000 per day, but current daily tests don’t get close even to its halfway mark.

Several big cities like Jakarta, Bogor and Surabaya carry out their own screenings for tens of thousands of residents, but the antibody-based rapid testing has less accurate results and needs further tests for confirmation.

Main Battle Grounds

Most densely populated island of Java is home to 73.8 percent of cases, with Jakarta topping the list with 4,092 cases or 42.1 percent of the national figure.

West Java, who has four times the population of Jakarta, comes second with 1,009 cases or 10.4 percent.

Most cases in West Java occur in cities who share borders with the capital.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said on Tuesday the outbreak has caused 3.6 million people in the capital to plunge into poverty. 

“The pandemic has delivered severe economic impact that led 3.6 million people to poverty,” Anies said during a video conference with business executives in Jakarta.

“Our challenge is to make sure that they can survive this ordeal and help them meet their basic needs, primarily food. We are talking about a big population who needs food supplies, and that will require a large-scale collaboration,” he told the businessmen.

Jakarta has a population of just above 10 million people.