Indonesia’s daily case spikes do not reflect real-time data: COVID-19 Task Force

Indonesia’s COVID-19 Task Force spokesman Wiku Adisasmito. Photo: BNPB
Indonesia’s COVID-19 Task Force spokesman Wiku Adisasmito. Photo: BNPB

Experts and the general public alike have pretty much known all along that Indonesia’s official COVID-19 cases count, however worrying it is, does not reflect the even more grim reality of the outbreak in the country. And now, once again, we have confirmation for this straight from officials.

Last week, Indonesia registered record-breaking daily counts in four successive days. On Wednesday, Indonesia confirmed 11,278 new cases, followed by 11,557 on Thursday, 12,818 cases on Friday, and 14,224 cases on Saturday. The figure took a slight dip to 11,287 on Sunday.

While the general — but unofficial — consensus is that the spikes were the result of the Christmas and New Year holidays, the COVID-19 Task Force yesterday offered another explanation — one that officials have offered before.

“The government is continuing to improve its data interoperability [between regions]. Recently, there have been delays in data input from regions because our integrated data management system is not functioning perfectly yet,” COVID-19 Task Force spokesman Wiku Adisasmito said.

Wiku did not say if this means that Indonesia’s real-time caseload should be higher or lower than the official count.

But any layman would probably bet on the former, as Indonesia’s COVID-19 positivity rate reached a record high of 32.83 percent yesterday, which is more than six times higher than the 5 percent threshold recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) to initiate a lockdown. Indonesia is not, and never has been, in a full lockdown.

In November, the Health Ministry said lack of data integration between the central and regional governments, particularly during a long weekend holiday, caused a slight dip in the country’s daily cases count. True enough, Indonesia’s caseload spiked not long after and there have been no meaningful signs of it slowing down even until today.

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