South Jakarta becomes first center for COVID-19 rapid tests

South Jakarta becomes first center for COVID-19 rapid tests

President Joko Widodo leading a limited meeting via teleconferencing on Wednesday (18/3/2020) at the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta. (ANTARA/HO-Presidential Secretariat Press Bureau)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo said South Jakarta has become the first center to implement rapid tests for detecting COVID-19 infections. Testing kicked off today in the area, which is considered vulnerable to the disease.

"The government started carrying out rapid tests today as an initial indication of whether individuals have contacted the COVID-19 virus. The government is prioritizing areas that are most vulnerable to COVID-19, based on the mapping of the most affected areas,” said Joko Widodo (Jokowi) at the Bogor Presidential Palace on Friday.

The Ministry of State Owned Enterprises had earlier stated that COVID-19 rapid test kits from China are being brought to Indonesia gradually, starting Thursday, March 19.

"There are priorities, and we are prioritizing areas that are indicated to be the most vulnerable in South Jakarta," the President said.

The capital city's southern area was identified as the initial region for conducting rapid tests, based on contact tracing that had been carried out for patients testing positive for COVID-19.

"Rapid tests have indeed been carried out door to door this afternoon by officials in some targeted neighborhoods that were in contact with people who tested positive for Covid-19," Jokowi explained.

He further said the government had decided to decentralize tests by giving authority to laboratories appointed by the Ministry of Health.

He urged the public not to hesitate to check those flouting social distancing measures and refraining from washing hands.

"I would like to reaffirm that we need to remind each other to follow health protocols in reducing the spread of COVID-19. Do not hesitate to reprimand people who are not maintaining discipline with regard to distancing, not washing their hands, and are negligent with their health," he advised.

Those who have tested positive for COVID-19, or suspect they have contracted the virus are urged to immediately isolate themselves and take care of their health, he added.

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Special Staff of the Minister of State Owned Enterprises, Arya Sinulingga, revealed that one of the SOEs, PT Rajawali Nusantara Indonesia (RNI), has ordered 500 thousand devices to detect the early symptoms of the coronavirus.

The test requires a considerably short time frame — from 15 minutes to three hours. If the rapid test result comes back positive, a patient can proceed for thorough laboratory tests.

Government spokesman for COVID-19 response, Achmad Yurianto, said the rapid tests use blood specimens instead of samples from the throat or esophagus that are used in PCR tests and genome sequences carried out by the Ministry of Health.

Up until Thursday, March 19, Indonesia had recorded a total of 309 COVID-19 cases, with 25 persons dying and 15 recovering after contracting the infection, indicating a death rate of eight percent among patients.

Positive COVID-19 cases were reported from a number of areas across the country, including DKI Jakarta (210), Banten (27), West Java (26), Central Java (12), East Java (9), Yogyakarta (5), Bali (1), West Kalimantan (2), East Kalimantan (3), Riau Islands (3), North Sumatra (2), Lampung (1), Riau (2), North Sulawesi (1), Southeast Sulawesi (3), and South Sulawesi (2).

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