The death toll from the coronavirus outbreak in Indonesia neared 1,000 as more cases were confirmed across the archipelago, with President Joko Widodo expressing disappointment over the slow progress in ramping up testing to detect the disease.
Eighteen people succumbed to the virus in the past 24 hours, taking the total to 991, Achmad Yurianto, a spokesman for the government task force on COVID-19, said in a televised briefing on Monday. The total number of positive cases rose by 233 to 14,265, he said.
With the pandemic showing no signs of slowing, Jokowi, as Widodo is known, called for scaling up the nation’s diagnostic capacity, saying the daily testing of 4,000 to 5,000 specimens was “far below our target.” A lack of trained manpower and stretched medical infrastructure system have limited the country of 270 million people to test only about 116,000 suspects, missing a target to ramp up testing to 10,000 a day.
The number of people suspected of contracting the virus and exhibiting symptoms but still awaiting clinical confirmation totaled almost 32,000, Yurianto said. There were nearly 250,000 people under observation nationwide, he said. A total of 2,881 people have so far recovered from the Covid-19, he said.
Jokowi ordered officials to accelerate production of polymerase chain reaction test kits and ventilators to deal with the outbreak that officials say may infect 95,000 people before easing. There are fears of a second wave of infections from the return of thousands of migrant workers and cruise-ship employees in the coming weeks and Jokowi on Monday called for increased surveillance.
The spike in infections haven’t stopped officials from discussing an exit strategy from the partial lockdown imposed in large cities from as early as June to prevent further damage to the nation’s economy and jobs. Officials Monday reiterated they see the economy growing 2.3 percent this year, but warned it could contract 0.4 percent in a worst-case scenario.