Jakarta. The Indonesian government is racing against time to achieve at least 10,000 Covid-19 tests per day as confirmed cases reached 5,136 on Wednesday, up by 297 from yesterday.
"We are doing our utmost to achieve 10,000 tests per day by activating 78 laboratories across the country, many more than 32 labs we were operating before," Covid-19 Task Force spokesman Achmad Yurianto said in a teleconference in Jakarta.
Since the first coronavirus cases were detected in late February, Indonesia has conducted only 36,400 swab tests for Covid-19. There have also been around 40,000 antibody-based rapid tests conducted by regional governments.
More tests are needed as more than 165,000 people now fall into the "person under surveillance" (ODP) category, meaning that they possibly have contracted the virus from coming into contact with people with Covid-19.
There are also more than 11,000 people suspected of having the illness after being treated at hospitals, or "patients under observation" (PDP).
If the government cannot ramp up the number of tests, it will continue having to battle the outbreak blindly.
The government will acquire more lab machines and reagents used in the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, as well as cut the duration between specimen examination and result delivery, Achmad said.
According to him, the pandemic has now affected 196 districts and municipalities in all of Indonesia's 34 provinces.
Ten more people have died from Covid-19 over the past 24 hours to bring the total death toll to 469, while 20 more patients have fully recovered to bring the number of recoveries up to 446, he said.
"We're in a very alarming situation that has already been declared as a national disaster. The president has instructed that both central and regional government budgets are prioritized for measures to handle this disaster, to break the cycle of Covid-19 infection nationwide and mitigate its impact on people,” he said.
Hospital capacity for critical patients has now reached more than 4,000 beds, while makeshift hospitals in the Athletes' Village in Central Jakarta and on Galang Island in the province of Riau Islands together have around 2,400 beds for Covid-19 patients who are not severely ill, he said.
More than 800 hospitals across the country, including private hospitals, have been designated as Covid-19 referral hospitals, Achmad said.
The government has suggested that asymptomatic patients or those who develop mild symptoms self-isolate at home.
The task force has so far received more than Rp 200 billion ($12.8 million) in public donation, Achmad said.
At least 10 cities and districts in worst-affected areas have agreed to impose large-scale social restriction (PSBB) to contain the outbreak, he said.
Jakarta remains the epicenter of the pandemic in Indonesia with 2,474 confirmed cases, followed by West Java (559), East Java (499), Central Java (292), Banten (281) and South Sulawesi (242).