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Jakarta Post

Govt says rapid COVID-19 testing kits can return results in two minutes

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, March 21, 2020   /   06:05 am
Govt says rapid COVID-19 testing kits can return results in two minutes Health Ministry disease control and prevention director general Achmad Yurianto (‘left’), accompanied by National Disaster and Mitigation Agency (BNPB) spokesman Agus Wibowo ('right'), speaks to journalists in Jakarta on Tuesday. (Antara/Aditya Pradana Putra)

The Indonesian government says COVID-19 rapid testing kits can return results in about two minutes. Authorities expect the kits will significantly speed up efforts to detect and contain COVID-19 in the country.

Health Ministry disease control and prevention director general Achmad Yurianto said on Friday that the results would come quickly as the tests used only blood serum, and medical workers would perform short reaction tests to see whether someone had the virus.

“Medical officers will take a few drops of blood from the person and put them into a testing kit for examination. The results will be out in about two minutes," Yurianto said.

Medical officers started rapid COVID-19 tests on Friday, focusing on areas at risk of widespread contagion, he said, adding that the initial wave of tests would be for around 600,000 people across the country who had contact with people found to have COVID-19.

The first tests were performed in South Jakarta on Friday, according to President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, as contact tracing carried out by authorities found that the area was at high risk for the disease.

Jokowi recently ordered his aides to conduct nationwide rapid tests to expedite detection as not many people could undergo regular tests due to the limited number of laboratories. Indonesia has recorded the highest death toll from the disease of all ASEAN nations, with 32 fatalities to date.

Read also: Indonesia starts rapid tests, imports medicines to 'cure' COVID-19, Jokowi says

The archipelago recorded a total of 369 cases as of Friday, and the disease had spread to 17 out of the country’s 34 provinces.

Indonesia hopes to distribute 1 million rapid testing kits nationwide in the upcoming days, Yurianto said. The government received 2,000 testing kits on Friday and was set to obtain 100,000 more on Saturday.

Despite the ability to provide faster results, rapid testing kits cannot provide the “strong” results of the regular polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests as they are not able to determine the severity of the infection.

Yurianto, therefore, reminded the public that the tests were supposed to only confirm the infections and that they should not react excessively once the results were out.

“Not all people who test positive should seek advanced medical treatment at hospitals. If their results are positive after taking the test but they are asymptomatic, we will ask them to self-isolate at home,” Yurianto said.

“However, if people experience mild symptoms of the disease, we might ask them to reconfirm the result by taking the regular PCR test." (glh)