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Jakarta Post

West Java's Sukabumi becomes new COVID-19 cluster following rapid tests

  • Arya Dipa

    The Jakarta Post

Bandung   /   Tue, March 31, 2020   /   10:15 am
West Java's Sukabumi becomes new COVID-19 cluster following rapid tests West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil observes the information system related to the spread of the coronavirus at the COVID-19 Information and Coordination Center in Bandung, West Java on March 10, 2020. In addition to monitoring the spread of COVID-19, the center also provides two hotline channels for people who want to report cases or ask for health information. (JP/Arya Dipa)

Sukabumi city in West Java has been announced as a new COVID-19 cluster and the epicenter of the spread of the virus in the province, following thousands of rapid tests that were conducted by the provincial administration recently.

West Java governor Ridwan Kamil said that of the 22,000 rapid tests using blood samples in at least 27 regencies and cities, 300 people had tested positive for COVID-19 in the province.

“Those who tested positive underwent further screening using PCR [polymerase chain reaction] by swabs,” Ridwan said in a press conference in provincial capital Bandung on Monday.

The findings, he said, had yet to be reported to the Health Ministry as the administration was awaiting the results of the second tests — using PCR — from the 300 people.

The rapid test result shows that Sukabumi is the new epicenter for the spread of the coronavirus in West Java.

“The city bears the highest number of positive result [from rapid testing] of all cities and regencies in West Java,” Ridwan said, although he did not mention the exact number of positive cases in Sukabumi.

The governor said he was surprised by the findings as he initially thought that cases of COVID-19 would be widely found in satellite cities of Jakarta that fell under the West Java administration, such as Depok, Bekasi and Bogor, as well as in Bandung.

When asked about the spike of cases in Sukabumi, Ridwan said he was still studying the cause. “This is why it is important to conduct such a massive test. Without it, we are completely in the dark. The virus spreads in areas that we have never thought.”

Ridwan said he had ordered the mayor of Sukabumi to respond immediately by imposing a partial quarantine for subdistricts in the city where there are confirmed infections.

As of Monday afternoon, West Java's COVID-19 Information and Coordination Center had recorded a total of 149 residents who had tested positive for the virus, with 19 cases that have turned fatal. Meanwhile, nine people have recovered.

At least 7,281 are included as people under surveillance (ODP), of which 1,988 have been excluded from the list as the period of ODP has ended for them.

Meanwhile, as many as 850 are still categorized as patients under treatment (PDP), 660 of whom are still hospitalized.

“The number of ODP people in West Java has jumped because of mudik [mass exodus],” Ridwan said.

The West Java administration is now conducting contact tracing for some clusters, including the recent gathering involving the members of the Indonesian Young Enterpreneurs Association (HIPMI) city branches. The 160 members are now being examined in Bandung after having attended the gathering on March 9 in Karawang regency.

They are now being screened using the rapid test.

West Java Health Agency’s communicable disease control and prevention section head, M. Yudhi, said the test was conducted to ensure the status of the HIPMI members.

Similar screenings have been conducted on at least 40 congregation members of the Indonesian Bethel Church. They had a gathering in Lembang and are now being examined with swab tests.

Ryan B. Ristandi, the person-in-charge of West Java’s Health Laboratory, said 17 PDPs from the church cluster had been hospitalized. There were other 800 people who have had contact with people from the cluster but have not shown symptoms of COVID-19. 

He said the 800 people would be tested soon.

The laboratory, Ryan added, had a capacity of testing 96 samples a day. There were 40 paramedics and 40 analysts in the laboratory, which had examined samples from four clusters in the province.

“So far, the bottleneck that we are facing is the extraction process as it is still being conducted manually. With the help of machines, it will be faster,” said Ryan, adding that there were only three manual PCR machines in the laboratory. (asp)