Indonesia now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia, surpassing the caseload of neighbouring Singapore. The news comes as the world’s fourth most populous country ramps up its testing efforts throughout the archipelago.
New cases rose by 1,031 in the past 24 hours, according to health ministry official Achmad Yurianto. The recent surge has brought the total to 41,431, exceeding Singapore’s official tally of 41,216. Indonesia has also had the highest number of deaths from the disease, currently at 2,276.
Expanded testing measures have seen a surge in infections in Indonesia in the past weeks. This follows the easing of several social distancing rules in the capital Jakarta and other cities. Authorities, including President Joko Widodo, have laid out steps to prevent a new wave of infections and warned that restrictions may be reimposed to combat the virus.
In Singapore, majority of the new infections trace back to clusters of migrant workers. In Indonesia, that is not quite the case, as it recorded new cases in all its 34 provinces spread across different islands. Open-source data platforms LaporCovid-19 and KawalCovid19 assert that virus deaths in Indonesia, which has a population of nearly 270 million, may be over three times the official tally.
Widodo acknowledges that the disease will linger until a vaccine becomes accessible and has committed to double its average daily testing soon to 20,000. Official data show that only 348,278 people have been tested using polymerase chain reaction tests. The country has over 13,000 suspected patients waiting to be tested.
The province of East Java, home to about 40 million people, has become a new virus hot spot in the country alongside South Sulawesi. Infections in East Java have surged to 8,533, with 651 deaths. Surabaya, the second largest city of Indonesia, is located in East Java.