Jakarta plans to double testing

  • Indonesia
  • Saturday, 19 Sep 2020

The fight continues: Women wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus walking past a street performer in a traditional ‘ondel-ondel’ costume in Jakarta. — AP

Jakarta plans to double its Covid-19 testing capacity in the near future, its governor said, as the capital fights surging infections that saw restrictions reimposed to slow the spread and help hospitals to cope.

Jakarta alone has seen more than 1,000 new daily cases on average this month, more than double the average in the first half of August, with the tide of infections piling

pressure on its under-resourced health sector.

Governor Anies Baswedan said in an interview on Thursday that the city of 10 million was conducting about 50,000 weekly coronavirus tests and hopes to “at least reach double from where we are today”.

According to the World Health Organisation, Jakarta’s weekly testing rate of 5.5-6 people per 1,000 population in the past three weeks was five times the WHO’s minimum benchmark.

Anies said the rapid case rise left him no choice but to bring back social restrictions that he eased in June, with limits on commerce, transport and places of worship reimposed.

“We had never experienced this kind of jump, ” Anies said. “That’s why... we decided to pull a brake.”

He said 13 of Jakarta’s 67 hospitals have been designated as Covid-19 treatment centres.

Asked if more would be dedicated to coronavirus cases, he said, “I don’t hope so.”

“No one wants to see that, ” he added.

Indonesia reported 3,635 new infections and 122 deaths on Thursday, taking total cases to 232,628 and fatalities to 9,222, South-East Asia’s most deaths.

Unlike many Asian capitals, Jakarta did not impose a lockdown and opted for a more calibrated approach, which some critics say was too lax. — Reuters

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