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Jakarta Post

More deaths among probable cases than confirmed COVID-19 cases in Java: WHO

  • Alya Nurbaiti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, July 17, 2020   /   06:57 pm
More deaths among probable cases than confirmed COVID-19 cases in Java: WHO A cemetery worker places a wooden marker at a burial site for victims of COVID-19 at Keputih cemetery in Surabaya, East Java, on Wednesday. (AFP/Juni Kriswanto )

The number of deaths among probable COVID-19 cases is higher than that of confirmed COVID-19 cases in most of Java, Indonesia’s most populated island, the World Health Organization has revealed.

In its latest Indonesia Situation Report, the WHO showed that from June 22 to July 12, Jakarta reported 296 deaths of probable cases — formerly classified by the government as patients under surveillance (PDP) and people under observation (ODP) — or three times higher than the 87 deaths of confirmed cases.

During the same period, East Java reported 699 PDP deaths and 64 ODP deaths, also higher than 491 deaths of COVID-19 patients in the province. Central Java and Banten, meanwhile, recorded 325 and 25 PDP deaths, respectively, while the number of deaths among COVID-19 patients in the respective regions was 276 and five.

"Deaths among patients under surveillance [PDP] have been substantially higher than the deaths among confirmed COVID-19 cases in most provinces in Java," the WHO said, citing data reported by the six provinces.

Java, an island of some 141 million people, currently has almost 60 percent of the total COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, the WHO noted.

The official tally of COVID-19 infection in the country stands at 83,130 nationwide as of Friday, 47,532 cases of which were recorded across the aforementioned six provinces of Java.

Over the past months, volunteer groups crowdsourcing COVID-19-related data have revealed that deaths among PDP and ODP have indeed been higher than the deaths of COVID-19 positive cases, though the exact numbers have never been announced publicly by the government.

The Health Ministry only recently revised its guideline for COVID-19 handling and prevention and expanded the definition of COVID-19 deaths "for surveillance purposes" to include the deaths of probable cases.

As of Friday, the official COVID-19 death toll made public by the Health Ministry stands at 3,957, the highest in Southeast Asia.

East Java, currently the hardest-hit province, recorded the most COVID-19 fatalities with 1,338 deaths, followed by Jakarta with 719, Central Java with 285 and West Java with 188.

Read also: WHO urges Indonesia to test more suspected patients amid high death rate

However, data compiled by volunteer group Kawal COVID-19 shows over 8,000 PDPs and ODPs deaths nationwide as of Monday.

Tempo magazine also reported that an internal COVID-19 task force database had shown 13,885 COVID-19-related deaths as of July 3.

In its report, the WHO said it also expected an improvement in the diagnosis of suspected cases (PDPs and ODPs) as the ministry had adopted the updated WHO criteria on patient discharge in its revised national guidelines, which no longer require asymptomatic patients and patients with mild to moderate symptoms be tested negative twice.

WHO noted that as of Wednesday, the daily number of swab samples tested for follow-up tests remained higher than the number of suspected cases tested.

The UN health body added that on certain days, the number of samples tested was almost the same as the number of suspected cases tested, but it might not have been the situation due to timing issues related to a transition to the application of new data management.

Indonesia has so far tested 2,532 people per million population, with the assumption of a national population of 270 million, according to the government's data.