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Jakarta Post

Indonesia to revise 'overall data' on COVID-19 cases as govt scrambles to ramp up testing

  • Apriza Pinandita
    Apriza Pinandita

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, May 6, 2020   /   08:39 pm
Indonesia to revise 'overall data' on COVID-19 cases as govt scrambles to ramp up testing Medical workers take a swab sample from a patient under surveillance (PDP) at the Tarakan General Hospital in North Kalimantan on April 28. The sample will be tested using a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test to determine whether the patient has contracted the coronavirus. (Antara/Fachrurrozi)

The government is set to revise its data on confirmed and possible coronavirus cases across the country amid efforts to ramp up testing and to get a clearer view on the true scale of the outbreak within the archipelago.

Wiku Adisasmito, the head of the expert staff of the country's COVID-19 task force, said the central government planned to provide more accurate data on the coronavirus in Indonesia including suspected cases and probable cases, in accordance with the World Health Organization's reporting standards updated in early April.

The task force is expected to revise the crucial information and situation reports regarding the pandemic once it compiles the data from all provinces and districts across the archipelago.

“We are in the process of collecting, cleaning and integrating data from [all] provinces and districts,” Wiku told a virtual press conference on Wednesday.

“There is going to be a revision of the overall data as the head of the task force has instructed all accurate data to be [presented] soon."

According to the WHO, a patient is defined as a suspected case when they show symptoms of COVID-19 disease, have a travel history to residence history connected to an area reporting community transmission of coronavirus or have been in contact with confirmed or probable COVID-19 cases in the past 14 days prior to showing symptoms.

A probable case, meanwhile, is defined as a suspected case "in which testing for the COVID-19 virus is inconclusive" or a suspected case "for whom testing could not be performed for any reason".

Read also: The faces behind the numbers: Remembering COVID-19 victims

According to the government's tally, Indonesia has reported 12,438 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 895 of which have turned fatal so far.

As of Wednesday, authorities have declared 240,726 people in the country as people under surveillance (ODP) — those described to have traveled to virus-hit regions or having been in contact with positive cases but do not show any symptoms — while some 26,932 people are patients under treatment (PDP) — who have symptoms typical of COVID-19 and are in medical care but still need their status confirmed through a test.

The country of 270 million people has previously been criticized for having one of the lowest testing rates in the world, raising many doubts over the government's COVID-19 figures as observers point to a high likelihood that the real number of cases across the archipelago could be higher than official tallies.

Government data show that Indonesia had conducted polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on 92,976 people by Wednesday, a rate of about 344 tests per 1 million people. In comparison, Malaysia has conducted more than 6,500 tests per 1 million people, while Singapore has conducted more than 24,000 tests per 1 million people.

Wiku, however, said on Wednesday that Indonesia's test ratio "cannot necessarily be compared with countries of high [economic development] and with a low population."

The COVID-19 task force had distributed reagents for more than 450,000 PCR tests across Indonesia, Wiku said, although he admitted that the number of actual tests conducted in laboratories varied each day.

He went on to say that the government had collaborated with the WHO to train laboratory personnel in conducting real-time PCR tests in the hope of bolstering the country’s testing capacity. Some 200 participants are expected to join the training this month.

“Hopefully, by the end of this month, all labs will be supported by trained volunteers, so that we can maximize [the daily test capacity],” Wiku said, adding that the country had reached the maximum capacity of 10,000 tests per day. (rfa)