President Joko Widodo orders immediate coronavirus mass testing in Indonesia

Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Photo: Twitter/@jokowi
Indonesian President Joko Widodo. Photo: Twitter/@jokowi

The Indonesian government looks set to take an even more proactive strategy in its battle against COVID-19, with President Joko Widodo today instructing the cabinet to gear up for mass testing for the coronavirus in the country.

During a cabinet meeting this morning, President Jokowi instructed the Health Ministry to immediately make available rapid test kits for the novel coronavirus, as well as locations where the majority of Indonesians can be tested.

“Immediately perform rapid tests on a much more massive scale,” Jokowi instructed, as quoted by Kompas.

“This is for early detection of people with COVID-19.”

Jokowi is also calling upon state hospitals, state-owned enterprises, the military, police, and private enterprises to help accelerate the coronavirus detection process in the country.

No clear outline for Jokowi’s plan has been made available to the public.

Yesterday, Achmad Yurianto, Indonesia’s spokesman for COVID-19-related matters, said the Health Ministry is developing a rapid COVID-19 testing method that, instead of involving a nasal swab, would involve blood sample analysis.

Such a method, Achmad said, would be easier to perform and would be able to be carried out at most hospitals throughout Indonesia. The spokesman did not give further details about the rapid testing method.

Mass tests and social distancing are among the strategies adopted by governments around the world to neutralize COVID-19. In Italy, mass testing in the small town of Vò crucially unearthed asymptomatic carriers of the coronavirus, allowing for local authorities to quickly and totally suppress the spread of the disease.

As of yesterday afternoon, Indonesia has recorded 227 confirmed COVID-19 patients, 19 of whom have died while 11 have recovered. Jakarta makes up the most of new coronavirus infections in the country.  

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