President Joko Widodo, right, and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir visit a makeshift hospital at the former Asian Games Athletes' Village in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, on Monday. The facility is designated for Covid-19 patients. (Antara Photo/Hafidz Mubarak)

Indonesia's Covid-19 Deaths Climb to 55, New Cases Hit Biggest Single-Day Rise

BY :HERU ANDRIYANTO

MARCH 24, 2020

Jakarta. Six more people died from coronavirus in Indonesia on Tuesday, bringing the country's death toll from Covid-19 to 55 as a worrisome trend continues where the number of deaths keeps beating the number of patients recovering from the disease.

In fact, no recovery was reported by the government's Covid-19 Task Force on Tuesday.

"The number of recoveries is unchanged. It remains at 30 [same as yesterday]," task force spokesman Achmad Yurianto said in a daily video conference in Jakarta.

He mentioned that seven people died from the disease over the last two days, but a check on the task force statistics showed double citations on one fatality in South Sulawesi province.

However, the cumulative death toll is correctly put at 55, up from 49 yesterday. 

Positive cases again grew at a faster pace by 107 to a total of 686 – the biggest single-day rise since the first positive cases were reported early this month.

The government figure also shows the number of affected provinces has grown from 20 to 24. Jakarta remains the hardest hit by the virus with 424 cases and 31 deaths.

Makeshift Hospital

Achmad said a makeshift hospital occupying the former Asian Games athletes' apartments in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, began receiving Covid-19 patients on Monday.

"The makeshift hospital at the athletes' village came into service yesterday. Until today, there have been 102 visits to the facility, with 71 people admitted for treatment and 31 allowed to go home. Of those patients, two were in serious condition due to pre-existing diseases, so they were transferred to the Army Hospital," Achmad said.

He added the facility was meant as an isolation hospital for positive patients unable to self-isolate at home.

Those with more serious conditions will be transferred to designated hospitals capable of handling infectious diseases.

They include the Sulianti Saroso Hospital, Persahabatan Hospital, Gatot Soebroto Army Hospital and more hospitals in provincial capitals.

Achmad reiterated that patients with mild symptoms will be encouraged to self-isolate by following guidelines from health officials.

"According to statistics, nearly 80 percent of infected persons have only mild symptoms that can get better with self-imposed quarantine. That way they don't add burden to the already overloaded hospitals," he said. 

"But people with severe symptoms and especially with comorbid medical conditions should be treated at the hospital," Achmad said.

Levels of Priority

Priority of importance also applies when it comes to testing for Covid-19 due to the limited number of test kits.

"The initial wave of rapid tests were given to people who had contact with positive cases. Second priority was given to medical workers who dealt with Covid-19 patients. Also included in this category were hospital front desk employees," Achmad said.

"Those people are very vulnerable to virus transmissions. When more test kits arrive, we will distribute them by regions," he said.

The government said it has bought one million testing kits and already received 150,000 on the weekend.

Once there are enough test kits in the country, all affected districts will get them, Achmad said.

He warned the rapid test kit works only by detecting antibodies in the human blood. The human body naturally produces antibodies during any virus attack.

To find out if a positive result was caused by coronavirus would need another, more time-consuming test using specimens from respiratory tissues, called a swab test.

"The rapid test detects if there has been a virus attack, but it cannot detect the type of the virus involved," Achmad said.
 

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