The Jakarta Post
Indonesia's death toll from the novel coronavirus disease topped 200 on Monday, with the government voicing particular concern about transmission from asymptomatic carriers as the number of positive cases continue to rise.
Health Ministry Disease Control and Prevention Director General Achmad Yurianto said 218 new cases had been confirmed on Monday, bringing the country's tally to 2,491 following the testing of 11,242 samples nationwide.
As many as 209 people have died of the contagious disease while 192 have recovered so far.
“We now believe the increasing number of cases come from sources [of infection] that are difficult to detect. We have noted that some sources are people who do not show symptoms,” Yurianto said on Monday.
He said asymptomatic carriers spread the virus through droplets when they talked, sneezed or coughed, but that they themselves did not notice they had contracted the disease.
“The real picture of the data we have collected shows that there are still sources of infection out there with asymptomatic carriers among the public,” he noted, adding that “There are also those prone to being infected because they don't wear face masks or wash their hands.”
With the trajectory of the coronavirus outbreak not showing any signs of slowing, the government declared last week a nationwide public health emergency and implemented large-scale social restrictions aimed at curbing transmission of the virus.
Among the measures, the government has ordered people to stay at home and not to go to schools, offices, places of worship or public places.
Some regions, such as Bandung in West Java, Balikpapan in East Kalimantan and Tegal in Central Java, are temporarily closing major roads and introducing curfews as rising number of cases begin to be recorded in provinces outside Java.
Jakarta, the national epicenter of the outbreak, recorded on Monday 101 new cases, taking the number of confirmed cases in the city to 1,232 — more than half of the country’s overall tally.
West Java, the second-hardest hit region among the country’s 32 virus-hit provinces, has reported 263 confirmed cases as of Monday, followed by East Java with 189 cases, Banten with 187 cases and Central Java with 132 cases.
With many health workers also being infected, the government is working to ramp up production of personal protective equipment amid an increasing shortage.
Yurianto has also called on members of the public to wear face masks when outside their homes, explaining that cloth masks would suffice to prevent transmission.
"Surgical masks and N95 masks are only for health workers. We can just use masks we make on our own, no less than four hours every day, and we have to wash them with soap," he said.