Coronavirus: Indonesia hit by second day of more than 100 new cases, bringing total to 790

An Indonesian official sprays disinfectant at a traditional market in Aceh Besar Regency, Indonesia, on March 25, 2020.
An Indonesian official sprays disinfectant at a traditional market in Aceh Besar Regency, Indonesia, on March 25, 2020.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA - Indonesia recorded 105 new coronavirus cases on Wednesday (March 25), resulting in a total of 790 infections in the world's fourth-most populous nation.

The country also reported three deaths from the virus, taking Indonesia's overall death toll to 58.

One more patient has recovered, making it 31 patients who have completed treatment at hospitals for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

In anticipation of a further spike in cases as it expands testing massively, Mr Achmad Yurianto, spokesman for the government's management of the coronavirus outbreak, said that those tested positive with mild or no symptoms will be required to quarantine themselves at home and observe certain rules, such as keeping a safe distance from other family members.

Those who show moderate to severe symptoms or have underlying conditions, such as hypertension and diabetes, will be isolated at designated hospitals and other facilities where they will get more intensive care, he added.

"This is what we're doing in Jakarta. Regional governments will also apply the same guidelines in their respective regions so that people will no longer panic because of a lack of clarity in handling the cases," he said.

Mr Achmad, who is also the Health Ministry's director-general for disease control and prevention, noted that Indonesia is learning much from the experiences of other countries in tackling the outbreak.

Citing Vietnam as an example, he said the people there have been successfully following the measures of physical distancing and self-isolation, increasing its chances of stopping the outbreak.

The national government had distributed about 125,000 rapid testing kits from China to three provinces worst stricken by the coronavirus - Jakarta, Banten and West Java, The Jakarta Post reported. It will prioritise testing for the most vulnerable groups, such as families of Covid-19 patients and healthcare workers.

 
 
 
 

Jakarta, a city of around 10 million inhabitants, recorded 463 cases, or nearly 60 per cent of Indonesia's overall cases, and 31 deaths as of Wednesday. West Java, the country's most populous province of nearly 50 million people, reported 73 cases and 10 deaths, while Banten has 67 cases and four deaths so far.

Indonesia only announced its first two confirmed cases on March 2, much later than other South-east Asian countries, including Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines.

Concerns have been raised that cases have gone undetected, and the government has been criticised for not conducting testing proportionate to its huge population of nearly 270 million people.

Last week, around 2,000 samples were tested. This is set to change, with the authorities aiming to test around one million people.

The Health Ministry has estimated that the population at risk of being infected with the coronavirus is between 600,000 and 700,000.

The government has taken several measures to curb the spread of the disease, including encouraging its people to work and and study from home as well as worship at home. It has also banned people from holding mass gatherings and activities, including religious events.

On Wednesday, the Transportation Ministry advised people to cancel the annual Idul Fitri exodus to their home towns, expected around mid-May this year. Transportation Ministry's director-general for land transportation Budi Setiyadi said that the move will support the government's efforts to curb the spread of the Covid-19 outbreak.

Last year, more than 30 million travellers across Indonesia undertook the "mudik", as the annual exodus is called.