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Jakarta Post

Expert urges Jakarta to expand COVID-19 tracing capabilities, coverage

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, November 6, 2020   /   10:23 am
Expert urges Jakarta to expand COVID-19 tracing capabilities, coverage An epidemiologist has said that, at a ratio of eight contacts per confirmed case, Jakarta is lagging far behind the recommended 1:25 contract tracing standard of the World Health Organization (WHO).  (Shutterstock/Redkey USB)

An Indonesian epidemiologist has said that the COVID-19 contact tracing efforts in the nation’s capital is still far below the recommended standards of the World Health Organization (WHO).

"Ideally, according to the WHO standard, it should be 1 to 25," epidemiologist Dicky Budiman from Griffith University, Australia, told kompas.com on Thursday.

This means that, for each person who tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracers should identify a minimum of 25 people who have been in close contact, defined as within 1 meter for 15 minutes or more.

"To estimate, for every 100 confirmed cases, there should be 2,500 identified contacts," he explained.

According to Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, however, Jakarta’s contact tracing ratio is currently 1:8, or eight close contacts per confirmed case. 

"So [the WHO standard] has not been reached, it still has a long way to go," said Dicky. 

He urged the Jakarta administration to increase its contact tracing efforts, as this was vital to controlling the spread of COVID-19.

Dicky added that through tracing, the government could immediately identify, test and isolate people who had come into close contact with someone who had been infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

Earlier, the Jakarta administration launched an open recruitment scheme to fill vacancies for 1,545 contact tracers and 10 data officers in its effort to tackle the local outbreak. 

"[Jakarta province] needs to add professional staff to do the tracing," Anies said on Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com. The governor said the administration sought professional contact tracers and data analysts to expand the capital city’s contact tracing capabilities and coverage.

He stressed that while applying to the positions was voluntary, it was not volunteer work. 

“They are professionals who will help with tracing so as to improve [contact tracing] coverage,” Anies said. 

The deadline for online applications closed on Wednesday at 11:59 p.m. Western Indonesia Time, with applicants required to upload their completed application form, highest educational qualification and a letter of health.

Potential applicants to contact tracer positions at puskesmas (community health centers) were required to have at least an associate degree (D3) in public health and able to use mobile applications. Applicants to data analyst positions at the regency or municipal levels were required to have at least a master in public health, and preferably be a registered health worker (STR Tenaga Kesehatan) with the Health Ministry.

The successful applicants are to be announced Friday via the Jakarta Health Agency’s official social media accounts.

"The [newly recruited] contact tracers and data officers will carry out their duties until the end of December, and they must be present at the puskesmas for eight working hours a day," said Anies.

He added that their terms could be extended depending on developments in COVID-19 control and management. (iwa)

Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.