Inter-city train trips on the island of Java are about to get significantly cheaper with the imminent adoption of a locally developed COVID-19 breathalyzer to screen passengers for the disease.
The Transportation Ministry says it may utilize the GeNose breathalyzer, developed by Gadjah Mada University (UGM), which researchers claim is able to detect the coronavirus in two minutes with a 93 percent accuracy rate. On top of that, a single test should only cost around IDR15K (US$1.07), compared to around IDR250K (US$17.75) for a rapid antigen test or IDR900K (US$63.91) for a PCR test.
“God willing, we will begin using [GeNose] starting Feb. 5,” Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi said yesterday, adding that approval from the COVID-19 Task Force is required.
That approval came this morning in the form of the task force’s Circular No. 5/2021, which rules that passengers on inter-city train trips may be screened for COVID-19 with either a rapid antigen test, a PCR test, or a GeNose test.
The circular is in effect from today until at least Feb. 8, and may be extended pending further review.
GeNose may also be utilized to screen inter-city bus passengers and at sea ports in the near future.
Previously, authorities said there were plans to mass produce GeNose so that 10,000 units of the breathalyzer can be distributed across Indonesia by the end of February, allowing for daily screenings of 1.2 million people.
The Indonesian Society of Respirology (PDPI) praised GeNose’s streamlined testing process, but said that, for the time being, it should only be used as a preliminary screener while PCR swab tests must remain the gold standard for COVID-19 diagnosis per WHO protocol.