Indonesia's COVID-19 testing capability sees 'tremendous' increase

Indonesia's COVID-19 testing capability sees 'tremendous' increase

A screen grab of Doni Monardo, head of the COVID-19 Handling Task Force, during a discussion organized by the task force in Jakarta on Thursday (October 22, 2020). (ANTARA/Prisca Triferna)

This is a tremendous increase. At the beginning of our laboratory examination, our capability was probably only at under 20 percent of the standards set by the WHO, and now, it is at 82.51 percent
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia’s COVID-19 testing capacity has expanded steeply compared to the beginning of the pandemic, according to head of the COVID-19 Handling Task Force, Doni Monardo.

The standard for COVID-19 examinations set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for a country with a population of 267 million, such as Indonesia, is 267 thousand people per week.

Currently, Indonesia has upped its testing capacity with laboratories, on average, examining samples obtained from around 33 thousand people a day, or 231 thousand people per week.

“This is a tremendous increase. At the beginning of our laboratory examination, our capability was probably only at under 20 percent of the standards set by the WHO, and now, it is at 82.51 percent. A figure that we must admit is quite encouraging," Monardo said during a discussion organized by the COVID-19 Handling Task Force in Jakarta on Thursday.

Initially, many parties had expressed their pessimism, saying Indonesia was not capable or not serious enough to carry out tests against COVID-19, he remarked.

"But now, it turns out to be very good," he said.

President Joko Widodo had set the testing target at 10 thousand specimens per day in April-May this year, which was then increased to 30 thousand specimens. Currently, Indonesia has been able to boost testing to more than 40 thousand specimens per day, Monardo noted.

The task force chief admitted that at the start of the pandemic, Indonesia's ability to test specimens was considerably low due to limited laboratory facilities and the absence of technology to test them.

However, as a result of the hard work of all parties involved, and with the advice of President Joko Widodo, the Ministry of Health team and the COVID-19 task force have been able to procure reagents and PCR machines, he said.

The items have been distributed to all regions and their procurement has been carried out gradually for dozens to 376 laboratories equipped to carry out COVID-19 tests, he added.

Although the number of laboratories is sufficient, there are still limitations on the number of laboratory personnel, he continued.

“We also see how difficult it is for lab workers who have to carry out specimen examinations at all times and they are one of the groups of frontliners who are fighting to check specimens as quickly as possible," Monardo stated.

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