Government gears for mass testing, prepares 1 million coronavirus kits

Government gears for mass testing, prepares 1 million coronavirus kits

Government spokesperson for COVID-19 response, Achmad Yurianto, issuing a statement on Friday (20/3/2020) in Jakarta. (ANTARA/Dewanto Samodro)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Indonesian government will prepare one million rapid test kits for almost 700 thousand people considered at risk of contracting the coronavirus, said Achmad Yurianto, the government’s spokesperson for COVID-19 response.

"From the data we gathered, there are 600 to 700 thousand people at risk. For that reason, the government will prepare around one million kits for mass testing," Yurianto said on Friday in a press conference for the Task Force for the Acceleration of COVID-19 Handling in Jakarta.

Mass testing will be carried out through a risk analysis of those who are at a high risk of contracting the virus. People who are at a considerably low risk will not be included in mass testing.

The risk assessment for mass testing involves scrutinizing the travel history of patients who have tested positive for the virus in a 14-day infection window, Yurianto explained. The families of COVID-19 patients staying at home will also need to undergo testing, he said.

If office-goers testing positive for the virus have been to work in the last 14 days, their colleagues would need to be examined, he added.

The test method does not involve taking swab samples from the tip of the nose and throat, Yurianto explained. The rapid test kits examine blood samples and provide a result in less than two minutes, he added.

He acknowledged that the sensitivity of examinations using the new method is different from the PCR method, which is more accurate. Examinations using the new devices require the presence of immunoglobins,  substances produced in the body in response to a virus.

"Even in the case of (COVID-19 patients) who have recovered, the result will definitely be positive, while those who have been infected may deliver negative results as their immunoglobins are yet to take shape. That process takes one to six days," said Yurianto, who is also director general, Disease Prevention and Control, Ministry of Health.

He also explained that mass testing would serve as an initial screening for those at risk of contracting COVID-19. Those who test positive in the mass screening will be re-examined in a laboratory to confirm the results of the initial test.

The purpose of carrying out mass testing, he continued, is to quickly identify potential cases among the public. (INE)

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