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Jakarta Post

Govt wants 78 laboratories to conduct COVID-19 tests

  • Alya Nurbaiti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, April 15, 2020   /   09:12 pm
Govt wants 78 laboratories to conduct COVID-19 tests The government wants to have 78 laboratories conduct COVID-19 tests as it seeks to get on top of the epidemic in a country that has one of the lowest testing rates in the world. (Antara/Fauzan)

The government wants to have 78 laboratories across the country conduct COVID-19 tests.

“Of the 78 targeted labs, we have [so far] used 32 laboratories,” Health Ministry Disease Control and Prevention Director General Achmad Yurianto said at a press briefing on Wednesday.

Previously, National Disaster Mitigation Agency head and COVID-19 task force chief Doni Monardo said the task force was collaborating with the Health Ministry, the State-Owned Enterprise Ministry and the Research and Technology Ministry to improve laboratory capacity.

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has also called for increased testing, saying on Monday that the Health Ministry should aim to conduct at least 10,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests every day.

Yurianto said that, besides increasing laboratory capacity and the number of test kits, the government would also look to increase the amount of reagent as well as human resources in labs and get samples from patients to laboratories faster.

He said the government had obtained 150,000 reagents for PCR tests on Wednesday and would immediately distribute them to the regions.

As of Wednesday, the government has conducted more than 36,000 PCR tests from samples in 196 cities and regencies.

Indonesia's testing rate is among the lowest in the world, with only 132 tests per million people. Neighboring Malaysia has conducted more than 2,000 tests per million people, while Singapore and South Korea have conducted over 10,000. Indonesia would have to conduct around 2.7 million tests to reach a similar level.

According to the official government count, there are 5,136 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, with 469 deaths as of Wednesday.