Indonesian President asks for scaling up tests ahead of new normal

JAKARTA (XINHUA) – Indonesian President Joko Widodo yesterday ordered relevant authorities to double COVID-19 tests and aggressively trace the infected people as the country is gearing up for a new normal scenario.

The provinces of East Java, South Sulawesi and South Kalimantan where the infection rates stay afloat have to be put in priority efforts to curb the coronavirus transmission, the President told a limited Cabinet meeting at the State Palace.

“On the tests of specimens, my previous target of 10,000 per day has been passed, and the next target is 20,000 specimens per day. We have to set up a plan for the achievement,” Widodo said.

“I ask for more aggressive tracings by taking advantage of the communication technology, and ignoring the conventional ways,” he remarked.

Taking examples of the usage of a digital diary in New Zealand and the Mobile GPS (Global Positioning System) technology being developed by South Korea, the President said the tracings of the infected people could be well monitored.

An Indonesian woman undergoes a swab test for COVID-19 in Surabaya. PHOTO: AFP

“I want the COVID-19 task force, the Health Ministry, the military and the police to concentrate more in the three provinces where the transmission rates are still high, so that the rates can be edged lower,” the president said.

Indonesia has made progress on scaling up testings, albeit the effort remains insufficient as the vast archipelagic country’s population settles at over 260 million people.

The total specimens tested in Indonesia increased to 345,434 from 246,433 people, according to the data from the task force.

The country has planned to reopen economic activities particularly those in the areas where the virus infection has been obliterated or subdued, along with the implementation of a new normal scenario.

Health protocols have been prepared for the areas and sectors to be reopened, such as those on tourism, trades and sports.