A health worker checks a suspected Covid-19 patient's swab specimen in Tangerang, Banten, last week. (Antara Photo/Fauzan)

Jokowi Wants 10,000 Swab Tests Per Day as Covid-19 Cases Blow Past 4,000

BY :NOVY LUMANAUW

APRIL 13, 2020

Jakarta. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto to boost the number of Covid-19 swab tests to 10,000 per day and share the pandemic data with the government's Covid-19 Task Force and regional governments to better prepare them in reining in the spread of the coronavirus. 

Indonesia's Covid-19 cases reached 4,241 on Sunday after a record daily increase of 399 cases. The death toll reached 373, still above the number of recoveries of 359.

The number of fatalities has consistently stayed above the number of recoveries for almost a month now.

The central government has so far resisted to lock down Covid-19 epicenters, instead opting for large-scale social restriction, a half measure that experts warn would be ineffective without mass testing to track and isolate virus carriers. 

The most populous country in Southeast Asia has one of the lowest numbers of Covid-19 testing in the world. 

Only last week it doubled the number of its rapid PCR tests to 26,500, a rate of 100 per one million of its population.  

"This is good progress, but I want us to test 10,000 at least every day," Jokowi said during a limited cabinet meeting at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Monday. 

The record number of daily tests was just over 7,100, which occurred on Sunday. 

The Health Ministry has approved 78 laboratories with level three biosafety certification across the country to perform the test.

Only 29 of the laboratories are performing the test now, but that's still an improvement from just three last month.

Jokowi said the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry has managed to obtain 18 polymerase chain reaction rapid test machines, each of which can examine 500 samples a day. 

"I think up to three of this machine can be installed this week," Jokowi said.

The president also ordered the Health Ministry, the Covid-19 Task Force and regional governments to share their data with each other and also with the public.

Jokowi now wants details of people under surveillance (ODP), suspect patients (PDP), confirmed cases, fatalities and recoveries to be released to the public.

This is a complete turnaround from the central government's previous stance of sharing as little data as possible. 

"Everything has to be made clear and entered into a database. [Test] results must be shared, everyone should be able to access the data we have [on the pandemic]," he said.

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