Jakarta. Indonesia has bound to have polymerase chain reaction tests at 6,000 to 7,000 per day as the country lacks laboratories technician capable of carrying out the golden standard for diagnosing Covid-19, a top official said on Monday.
Two weeks ago, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo called on the Health Ministry to boost the country's testing capability to 10,000 per day as the Southeast Asian most populous country struggle to keep up with the pandemic spread.
Since then, the task force has brought in thousands of PCR test reagents from South Korea. Sixty-eight laboratories across the country now have enough equipment and materials to conduct the test. What they do not have is more technicians.
"We see in the field that one factor is not due to the reagents," Lt. Gen. Doni Monardo, the head of Covid-19 Handling Task Force, said.
"It is the laboratories technicians we are lacking," Doni said.
The highest number of tests Indonesia managed to pull off in a day was 7,111 a day on April 12, and since then, the country has yet to repeat that feat. The number of tests has been declining in the past six days, with only over 3,000 tests were completed on Monday.
Doni said the task force had signed up help from the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) and recruits and train more technicians soon.
"If we can increase the laboratory operation to 16 hours per day from the current 8 hours, it means we can increase our tests capability to 12,000 per day," Doni said.
Indonesia reported a total of 11,587 confirmed Covid cases on Monday. Among them, 1954 people have recovered, but 864 died.
So far, 86,061 people have taken the PCR tests in Indonesia. That equals 319 tests for a million people, one of the lowest testing rates among countries in Asia. In comparison, South Korea tested 12,310 per million of its population, Vietnam (2,860) and India (760).
For every seven tests that Indonesia conducted, one turned out positive, the government data showed.
A massive amount of testing was crucial for ensuring that the number of cases and deaths, two key statistics that inform decision-makers about the spread of the pandemic, is reliable.