Indonesia seeks to increase production of Covid-19 test kits; reports 1,051 new infections, death toll at 47,896

A nurse takes a swab sample from a man at the Tanah Abang district office in Central Jakarta. Indonesia reported 1,051 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday (June 23), taking its total number of cases to 47,896. The death toll is at 2,535. - The Jakarta Post/Asian News Network

JAKARTA, June 23 (The Jakarta Post/ANN): The Indonesian government is aiming to increase the country's production capacity of Covid-19 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits to 2 million units a month, Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy said.

“Should Indonesia be able to produce the number, (we) will be able to meet domestic needs,” Muhadjir said, adding that the idea had been conveyed to President “Jokowi” Widodo, who was also supportive of the plan.

Currently, state-owned pharmaceutical company PT Bio Farma is producing around 50,000 test kits per week.

To achieve the target, Muhadjir said the government would convert a facility that was previously used for the production of avian influenza vaccine.

“The President has approved the plan and we will soon conduct inter-ministerial coordination so that the PCR kits can really be produced at home, which would make us independent from imports,” he said.

Muhadjir said Bio Farma would prepare the construction design for the production facility, while the Public Works and Housing Ministry would do the reconstruction based on the design.

Indonesia has steadily ramped up its Covid-19 testing capacity, from an average of around 4,000 specimens tested daily in April to around 13,000 specimens tested daily since the end of May.

However, the country still has among the lowest testing rates in the world, with around 2,300 tests per 1 million population as of Monday.

Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Indonesia reported 1,051 new coronavirus infections on Tuesday, taking its total number of cases to 47,896.

Health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said there were 35 more deaths reported, with total fatalities now at 2,535.

Indonesia's toll of deaths related to Covid-19 is the highest in South-East Asia and outside of China. - The Jakarta Post/Asian News Network

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