Expert Comments on Jokowi's Call for Rapid Coronavirus Testing



Mahinda Arkyasa

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed government health agencies to conduct rapid coronavirus testing in order to quickly identify the virus transmissions on a larger scale. 

    "The government has decided to decentralize tests and hand the authorization to appointed laboratories," said the President at the Merdeka Palace on Friday, March 20, 2020. 

    The national COVID-19 spokesman, Achmad Yurianto, said that the main benefit in implementing the rapid testing compared to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) is that the method used does not require a biosecurity level 2 lab facility. 

    "This means that tests can be done in almost every medical lab in hospitals across Indonesia," said Achmad. 

    On a separate occasion, Sugiyono Saputra - a microbiology researcher from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) - said that there are three available methods currently to test viruses; the PCR, immune detection through serology tests, and chest CT scans.

    "But what the WHO and CDC recommends is the PCR, which was the first method developed early into the coronavirus outbreak," said Sugiyono.

    Sugiyono acknowledged the potency of the PCR method, but also realizes that the method is time-consuming. 

    Serology tests are quick to produce results within minutes. Meanwhile, apart from the insufficient amount of CT scanner, this device is ineffective due to the need to conduct coronavirus tests rapidly. Sugiyono also said that countries such as South Korea, China, and the United States have developed rapid coronavirus testing kits.