‘71,000 Indonesians could be infected by Ramadan’


  • Indonesia
  • Monday, 23 Mar 2020

Jakarta: If the Indonesian authorities failed to take drastic measures to slow down the spread of Covid-19, the country could have tens of thousands of cases by April, or shortly before the Aidilfitri holiday, scientists have warned.

Disease surveillance and biostatistics researcher Iqbal Ridzi Fahdri Elyazar and his team at the Eijkman-Oxford Clinical Research Unit (EOCRU) have used the geometric sequence method to see, “how much time it would take for the number of cases to double in Indonesia”.

Based on their calculations, Indonesia could be grappling with up to 71,000 Covid-19 cases by the end of April.

Iqbal and his team noted that the doubling time for Italy and Iran, which currently have the highest Covid-19 death toll, was five and seven days, respectively. The doubling time, they added, would be longer for countries that have taken a rigorous approach to contain the outbreak. South Korea, for example, had a doubling time of 13 days and China 33 days.

For Indonesia, the number of Covid-19 cases doubled in three days, jumping from 172 positive diagnoses on March 17 to 369 on Friday.

“The shorter the doubling time, the more dangerous it is, ” Iqbal said.

The team decided to use Italy’s and Iran’s doubling times to map the possible exponential rate in Indonesia. By using this geometric sequence, it found that the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases could reach between 11,000 and 71,000 by the end of April.

This prediction, Iqbal said, was meant to push the government to take massive and effective measures to handle the outbreak and also to raise awareness about the importance of social distancing.

Doubling time, he said, depended on the ability of the virus to infect, the magnitude of the case findings and the effectivity of intervention.

“The President has urged the public to practice social distancing and we hope everyone is listening to him so we can decrease the doubling time... We have to do it faster and more effectively.”

He added that clear, transparent information about the places visited by Covid-19 patients was important to reduce the exponential growth rate of the disease so that people can avoid these areas.

According to the projections of Hadi Susanto, a professor of Applied Mathematics at the University of Essex in England and the Khalifa University of Science and Technology in the United Arab Emirates, the peak of Covid-19 in Indonesia would be around Ramadan, which is expected to take place from April 23 to May 23.

“This is my pessimistic prediction, formed with a simple mathematical model. And of course, I hope that I’m totally wrong, ” he said. — The Jakarta Post/ANN

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