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Jakarta Post

Govt seeks help from universities, research agencies in running COVID-19 tests

  • Marchio Irfan Gorbiano

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, March 14, 2020   /   12:30 pm
Govt seeks help from universities, research agencies in running COVID-19 tests Medical workers don protective gear as they take samples from drivers with suspected symptoms of COVID-19. (AFP/Jung Yeon-je)

The Health Ministry is allowing universities and research agencies to run lab tests for COVID-19, as instructed by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo.

The President said during a press conference in Jakarta on Friday afternoon that the ministry could cooperate with, among others, Airlangga University in Surabaya, East Java and the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology in Jakarta in conducting polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

As of Friday, the government had allowed only one lab run by the ministry’s Health Research and Development Agency to test swab samples of suspected COVID-19 patients.

“I have told the health minister that other labs can run tests,” President Jokowi said.

The ministry's disease control and prevention director general, Achmad Yurianto, confirmed the plan, saying it would be implemented on Monday.

Read also: Regional administrations want greater role, authority to combat COVID-19

"The lab tests can be done in the environmental, health and technology centers of Airlangga University, the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology and some other facilities. We are conducting job training right now,” Yurianto said.

He added that the government had prepared more than 10,000 coronavirus test kits.

The ministry had previously insisted on working alone and rejected help offered by independent institutions such as Eijkman. The decision, however, was criticized by a number of scientists, who highlighted the importance of involving more people to avoid possible errors.

Read also: At least five suspected COVID-19 patients have died in Indonesia: What we know so far

The effectiveness of the ministry's laboratory has been questioned after a hospital in Semarang, Central Java, and another in Batam, Riau Islands, each reported deaths of suspected COVID-19 patients. Both patients' tests came back negative.

The country confirmed 69 COVID-19 cases on Friday, double the 34 cases identified the previous day. Four of the 69 patients died during isolation. (vny)


If you want to help in the fight against COVID-19, we have compiled an up-to-date list of community initiatives designed to aid medical workers and low-income people in this article. Link: [UPDATED] Anti-COVID-19 initiatives: Helping Indonesia fight the outbreak