The Jakarta Post
Indonesia's coronavirus tally surpassed that of other countries in Southeast Asia on Friday, despite the country being one of the last in the region to confirm the existence of COVID-19 in its territory.
The government announced on Friday 407 new coronavirus infections in the archipelago, bringing the number of confirmed cases to 5,923 nationwide.
The country continues to be hardest hit in Southeast Asia in terms of fatalities as the COVID-19 death toll reached 520 after another 24 deaths were registered on Friday.
Indonesia also has by far the largest population in the region.
"More than 173,000 people are currently classified as people under surveillance [ODP] and another 12,610 as patients under treatment [PDP]," the ministry’s disease control and prevention director general, Achmad Yurianto, said in a press conference on Friday.
With its 5,923 cases, Indonesia has surpassed the coronavirus tallies of Malaysia, the Philippines and Singapore, all of which had announced their first coronavirus infections in late January, a few weeks after the contagious virus emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan.
Indonesia confirmed its two first coronavirus cases on March 2.
As of Friday afternoon, the Philippines recorded the second-highest number of infections in Southeast Asia with 5,878 cases, followed by Malaysia with 5,251 cases and Singapore with 4,429 cases, according to data on the worldometers.info website.
The archipelago also has the highest case-fatality rate in the region at 8.7 percent.
Yurianto said the government would continuously to carry out aggressive massive testing and contact-tracing to cut the chain of coronavirus transmission.
"We have 34 laboratories across the country and we're going to add to that number in the near future. More than 42,000 specimens have been tested up until [Friday]," he said, adding that the government would prioritize polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing for patients under treatment (PDP).