An Indonesian Red Cross personnel disinfects a warehouse at Sarinah shopping center in Central Jakarta on Tuesday. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Indonesia Sways Toward Pandemic's Worst Case Scenario, Announces 19 Deaths From Covid-19


MARCH 18, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesia has reported a steep jump in the number of deaths from Covid-19 in its territory as the most populous country in Southeast Asia veered toward a worst-case scenario in the pandemic.

The number of deaths from Covid-19 in Indonesia reached 19 on Wednesday, almost four times the number of deaths a day earlier, Achmad Yurianto, the government spokesperson for Covid-19 handling, said in a press conference. 

The highest number of fatalities was in Jakarta, with 12 people, followed by two deaths in Central Java, and one each in Bali, Banten, West Java, East Java and North Sumatra. 

The total number of Covid-19 cases also increased to 227 from 172 previously. The number of recovered patients remained at 11.


Indonesia has ruled out lockdowns on affected cities, as had happened in Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak nearly two months ago, or now in several cities in Italy.

On the other hand, the country has also been skimping on testing, insisting on testing only people with clear contact history with previous Covid-19 patients. 

The pandemic team under Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto has only tested 1,592 people so far, or just six in a million out of Indonesia's total population.

In comparison, South Korea has tested more than 5,560 people per million out of its total population, allowing it to control the pandemic without closing major cities.

And as the Indonesian government hesitates on a model to control the spread of Sars-CoV-2, the name of the virus that causes Covid-19, the pandemic's trajectory in Indonesia is increasingly nearing its worst-case scenario. 

In just 17 days since the country announced its first confirmed Covid-19 cases, Indonesia has now seen more than 227 cases already.

The number almost doubles every third day, a growth rate for the pandemic closer to the one in China, before its aggressive quarantine period, than in Japan where it doubles every week or in Hong Kong, where it doubles every month. 

Red Tapes Delay Rapid Test Kit

Only a few weeks ago the Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartanto joked that the novel coronavirus must be finding it difficult to breach Indonesia's defense due to its complicated bureaucracy. 

The joke did not age well as today it was revealed that an order of 500,000 cheap and rapid Covid-19 test kits – which can deliver results in just three hours instead of the three days needed at the moment, albeit with a lower accuracy – has not made it to Indonesia because Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto's office had lingered on the paperwork.

State-owned agriculture and trading company Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia had ordered the rapid test kits from China last week, Arya Sinulingga, a special staff at the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry, said on Wednesday. 

"We're waiting for the paperwork from the Health Ministry. We registered the permit [to bring in the kits] on March 10," Arya said. 

Arya said the company can bring in the test kits as soon as the ministry issues the permit. 

"Once we get the permission from the Health Ministry, we'll use a Garuda flight from Hangzhou to transport the kits. They will arrive in Indonesia in two days," Arya said, referring to the country's flag-carrier Garuda Indonesia.