Jokowi wants wider virus testing

The Indonesian president wants to ramp up Covid-19 testing by 50% to 30,000 daily

JAKARTA • Indonesian President Joko Widodo wants to ramp up coronavirus testing by 50% to 30,000 daily as infections exceeded 77,000 in South-East Asia’s most populous nation, reports Bloomberg.

Jokowi, as the president is known, instructed his ministers yesterday to boost the nationwide testing capacity from a previous target of 20,000 a day by opening more laboratories especially in eight areas that include the capital region of Jakarta and neighbouring West and East Java.

Indonesia reported 1,282 new cases in the 24 hours to midday yesterday, bringing the total to 76,981, with an additional 50 people succumbing to the virus. The death toll has risen to 3,656 in Indonesia, the most in South-East Asia (at press time). Most of the new cases yesterday came from Jakarta and East Java, two of the country’s biggest hotspots.

Jakarta had extended a transition period to exit from a partial lockdown by two weeks to the middle of this month, as the city continued to report hundreds of new coronavirus cases a day. It posted a record daily spike yesterday.

The pandemic has hit Indonesia harder than the 1997 Asian financial crisis, battering small and big businesses alike, Jokowi said last month. Last Thursday, when the country reported the highest daily number of cases, Jokowi called the situation a “red signal”.

Meanwhile, Reuters reported the Philippines yesterday had its big- gest daily jump in Covid-19 deaths and warned of a risk of further fatalities and infections after the easing of lockdown restrictions and as authorities scramble to verify thousands of suspected cases.

A Health Ministry official reported 162 new deaths, which is also the biggest single-day jump recorded in South-East Asia to date, while 2,124 new infections were (at press time).

The number of Covid-19 infections has more than tripled to 56,259 since June 1 when the government started easing tight restrictions, including allowing public transport, restaurants and malls to open at limited capacities to restart the economy.

The Health Ministry said it expected the number of fatalities to rise beyond the total 1,534, with nearly 12,000 suspected positive cases yet to be verified, the report added. — Bloomberg/Reuters