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The Factors Behind the Rise in Jakarta's Covid-19 Cases

Aditya Gagat Hanggara

08 August 2020

The outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic requires quick and responsive action from governments around the world in taking preventative and mitigation steps. Indonesia, and Jakarta in particular, are no exception. In an attempt to curb the spread of the coronavirus, the Government of Jakarta has implemented three main strategies: testing, tracing, and isolation.

The test is one of the first steps taken by the government to detect citizens indicated by Covid-19 through a series of checks or tests. The test also acts as a window for knowing the current situation related to transmission around the community. Simply put, without testing, there will be no data. If an area is not equipped with reliable data, then the said area will certainly not be able to implement appropriate measures to break the chain of the spread of a pandemic.

For this reason, the provincial government has adopted a more aggressive test policy to find as many positive patients as possible so that they can be isolated immediately to prevent wider transmission. This action is also a form of control efforts that are in line with increasing community activities amid the transition period.

Corona Test Mechanisms

Since the beginning of the Covid-19 outbreak, the Government of Jakarta has always upheld the principle of data transparency to the public. So, if you want to monitor the progress of the current testing policy, you can visit the data monitoring page located on the website. In it, you will find interactive data about the number of tests that have been carried out in Jakarta since the beginning of 2020 until today.

When you read the testing data, some of you may ask, what is the difference between a rapid diagnostic test and a PCR test? As explained by the World Health Organization, rapid tests are tests conducted to detect the reactivity of antibodies in the blood of someone indicated by Covid-19. However, given the possibility of cross-reaction with pathogens from other coronaviruses, the reactive results that can be obtained in a matter of minutes do not necessarily indicate that the person has been infected with the Covid-19 virus. So, for more accurate test results, those who are declared reactive during the rapid test will be referred to do the PCR (Polymerase Chain Reaction) test.

The PCR test, which is also commonly called a swab test, is done by collecting the secretions from the back of your nose and upper throat to detect the presence of genetic material contained in the virus. Then, why does the Corona website display two different types of PCR test data: people and specimens? This is because the same individual can provide more than one sample or specimen for examination in the laboratory. That is why the number of specimens examined during the PCR test is greater than the number of people undergoing the PCR test.

Behind the Increasing Number of New Patients

If you follow the development of the positive cases of Covid-19 in Jakarta, you may also pay attention to the fairly high number of new patients lately. Some of you might feel worried when you see the report. That is normal because we have to keep our guard up as long as the pandemic spreads in the city. But no need to panic excessively. Because as previously stated, behind the increasing number of new cases, there is a massive testing effort that is currently being conducted by the government. The steps need to be carried out so that positive patients, especially those without symptoms and doing outside activities, can be detected immediately and then isolated to prevent them from transmitting the virus to others.

Speaking of testing efforts, WHO has set a requirement of 1 test per 1,000 populations per week as the benchmark for sufficient testing. This means, with more than 10 million populations, Jakarta needs to conduct more than 10,000 tests every week. Currently, Jakarta manages to do more than 40,000 tests per week, four times more than the world standard.

"Based on WHO standards, Jakarta - with almost 11 million of population, must conduct a minimum of 10,645 PCR tests per week for people (not specimens). While from the report of the past week (31/7), the number of people who have done the PCR test has reached 43,500 people," said the Governor of Jakarta Anies Baswedan after visiting Jakarta's Regional Health Laboratory to see the testing process of the Covid-19 sample at the end of July 2020.

Detailing the Case Distribution

Large-scale testing efforts currently run by the government certainly are not carried out randomly. Comprehensive testing methods such as active case finding and contact tracing are needed to identify new clusters of transmission around Jakarta. The active case finding program has been running since mid-May 2020. Instead of being static and waiting for new patients to arrive, this method allows the provincial government to be more active in searching for new cases in priority places like traditional markets and office buildings. When a new case is found, this method is then combined with tracing of close contacts of the new patient.

Through these two methods, the Government of Jakarta can explain the distribution of cases in detail to the public, as they did on 21 July. On that day, Jakarta recorded 441 new cases. Puskesmas reported that 167 of them were found based on active case finding (137 cases) and contact tracing (37 cases). We can see how effective those methods are in assisting government efforts to conduct more effective testing.

Hopefully, the information above can enlighten you about the development of the Covid-19 cases during this transition period. Keep in mind, even though you can do the activities that are permitted by the government, always try to stay at home when you can. Especially, if there is no urgent need. Obey health protocols: wear a mask, maintain distance from others, and frequently wash hands with soap and water. For the latest information on the spread of the pandemic, besides visiting the official corona website, you can also access the JakCorona feature in the JAKI application.

Covid-19 Data

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Aditya Gagat Hanggara

Aditya Gagat adalah lulusan Teknik Informatika dari Binus University yang saat ini menjadi salah satu Content Writer di Jakarta Smart City. Gemar mengamati isu transportasi, olahraga, teknologi dan sains, ia memulai karier Jurnalistik bersama media internasional pada 2016-2019. Saat ini ia terfokus pada topik kesehatan, khususnya mengenai penanggulangan pandemi Covid-19 di wilayah DKI Jakarta.

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