Covid-19: Indonesia secures 50,000 PCR test kits

A doctor walks near a polymerase chain reaction diagnostic kit (PCR) at Pertamina Jaya Hospital Laboratory in Cempaka Putih, East Jakarta, on April 6. - Antara

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN): As many as 50,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits arrived in the country on Sunday (April 19), which will help provide more accurate data on the rate of Covid-19 infection by increasing the scale of testing.

Doni Monardo, the head of the National Covid-19 rapid response task force, said he was grateful for the prompt arrival of the test kits, expressing hope they would help the government detect more cases across the country.

“We are grateful that in less than 24 hours we were able to secure 50,000 PCR test kits, ” Doni said in a statement on Sunday.

He said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo had previously ordered the task force to conduct 10,000 PCR tests per day to expedite the detection of infected individuals and help curb the rapid spread of the deadly virus.

Experts consider PCR tests to be the “gold standard” of Covid-19 testing, compared to the less accurate rapid testing, which is faster and more affordable and is used to detect antibodies in blood samples.

PCR testing is also more complicated than rapid testing, according to Doni. Unlike rapid tests, PCR tests require two unique reagents, one of which is derived from RNA extraction.

He said the reagents, which are produced by China and South Korea, were difficult to obtain, as Indonesia had to compete with other countries amid surging global demand.

“We need to quickly make a decision because other countries have also scrambled to secure the chemicals used for PCR tests, ” Doni said, adding that an embassy official in South Korea had been tasked with escorting the chemicals to Indonesia.

He said he expected the country to secure 495,000 PCR test kits within the week.

“[With 495,000 test kits, ] Indonesia will be able to map out the scale of contagion more accurately, ” Doni said.

Indonesia has recorded at least 6,575 Covid-19 cases with 582 deaths linked to the disease as of Sunday. - The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

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