Jakarta. The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Indonesia surged to 96 from 69 a day earlier with five fatalities, the government announced on Saturday.
“The number of cases increased by 27 after we intensified contact tracing,” Achmad Yurianto, a spokesman for the government’s handling of coronavirus outbreak, told a press conference in Jakarta.
Among the fatalities is a female medical staff who has treated a Covid-19 patient, Achmad said, but he declined to elaborate.
The recovery rate remains below 10 percent, with eight patients being discharged from hospitals.
"They said they no longer had the illness and two more tests showed they were free from the virus," he said.
Achmad said Covid-19, the official name of the disease, has spread to eight cities including Jakarta, Bandung in West Java, Tangerang in Banten, Solo in Central Java, Bali, Manado in North Sulawesi, Yogyakarta and Pontianak in West Kalimantan.
He said the government has intensified measures to identify and trace infected persons and other people who have contacts with them to follow a directive from the World Health Organization.
"We are intensifying contact tracing because this is a crucial factor that changes our approach after the WHO declared Covid-19 as a pandemic," he said.
He said efforts to identify and trace contacts depend largely on information from the community.
WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has sent a letter to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to recommend that the Indonesian government scales up emergency response mechanisms by declaring a "national emergency".
The WHO also asked the government to provide "detailed information about the approach surveillance and testing, contact identification and contact testing for Covid-19".
The president said on Friday he has yet to consider putting affected cities in lockdown, as the government is preparing a large facility to handle Covid-19 patients on Galang Island near Batam, Riau Islands province.
"The large-scale observation facility will be completed next week. I will inspect myself," Jokowi said.
Indonesia also designated Natuna Island on the northern maritime border and Sebaru Island near Jakarta as observation and quarantine facilities for Covid-19 patients.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan announced on Saturday all schools in the capital city are put in a two-week vacation starting on Monday to contain the spread of coronavirus.
"The national exam that begins on Monday is delayed until further notice," Anies said. The decision affects around 124,000 high school students in Jakarta who are slated to take the exam.