Please conduct rapid tests soon with greater coverage to detect as early as possible the initial indication of individuals contracting COVID-19
Jakarta (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) gave instructions to the COVID-19 task force and other related agencies to conduct rapid tests on individuals without further ado to evaluate whether they had contracted the coronavirus infection.

"Please conduct rapid tests soon, with greater coverage, to detect as early as possible the initial indication of individuals, who have contracted COVID-19," he remarked at a limited meeting held to discuss the COVID-19 task force's report via teleconferencing at the Merdeka Palace in Jakarta on Thursday.

The head of state also ordered the procurement of more medical instruments and laboratories for COVID-19 tests. The COVID-19 task force and Health Ministry can team up with hospitals belonging to the government, state-owned companies, the Indonesian military, the national police and regional governments, private hospitals and recommended research institutes to conduct COVID-19 tests.

Jokowi called for the health protocol for COVID-19 tests to be clear and simple for the public to easily comprehend. Thus, after the rapid tests are conducted, medical officers can consider the best-possible option for patients to undergo self-reliant quarantine or hospital quarantine.

"The narration of the health protocol should be clear and easily understood. This is important since it is related to the result of the rapid test, be it (the patients) who will take self-reliant quarantine or require hospital services. The health protocol must be clear," he stated.

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Achmad Yurianto, the government’s spokesman for the handling of COVID-19, stated on Wednesday (March 18) that the Health Ministry is mulling over the application of rapid detection.

This method differs from the earlier test since a blood specimen will be used instead of a specimen taken from the throat, he remarked during a press conference held at the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Building in Jakarta.

One of the advantages of the rapid test is that it annuls the need for laboratory testing at the second level of biosecurity. Hence, the rapid test can be conducted almost at all health laboratories of hospitals across Indonesia.

"The problem is that since immunoglobulin will be checked, it will take at least a week to see the immunoglobulin reaction of the infected people. If the people have not been infected or have been infected for less than a week, the immunoglobulin will likely give a negative picture," he explained.

As of Wednesday (March 18), the number of patients tested positive for coronavirus in Indonesia had reached 227.

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Translator: ndra Arief Pribadi/Suharto
Editor: Sri Haryati
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