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Indonesia sees biggest daily increase of 107 coronavirus cases

It reports 107 new infections; researchers say it could have 71,000 by end-April

JAKARTA : Indonesia yesterday confirmed 107 new coronavirus cases, the biggest daily increase to date in the South-east Asian country, bringing its total to 686, Health Ministry official Achmad Yurianto said.

Seven more people had died as of yesterday, bringing the total number of deaths to 55, he added, saying that 30 people had also recovered from the virus.

Scientists told the Jakarta Post that if the Indonesian authorities fail to take drastic measures, the country could have tens of thousands of cases by April.

Disease surveillance and biostatistics researcher Iqbal Ridzi Fahdri Elyazar and his team at the Eijkman-Oxford Clinical Research Unit have used the geometric sequence method to see "how much time it would take for the number of cases to double in Indonesia".

Based on their calculations, Indonesia could be grappling with up to 71,000 cases by the end of April.

DOUBLING TIME

Mr Iqbal and his team noted that the doubling time for Italy and Iran, which have the highest death toll, was five and seven days, respectively.

The doubling time, they added, would be longer for countries that have taken a rigorous approach.

South Korea, for example, had a doubling time of 13 days and China 33 days.

For Indonesia, the number of cases doubled in three days, jumping from 172 on March 17 to 369 on Friday. "The shorter the doubling time, the more dangerous it is," Mr Iqbal said.

Indonesia has cancelled the national exams due to be held in two phases, starting on March 30 and April 20.

"What's most important is the safety and the health of our students and their family and their grandparents," Education Minister Nadiem Makarim said yesterday.

Meanwhile, Malaysia said it is ramping up coronavirus tests in preparation for the "worst scenario", as it grapples with South-east Asia's highest number of infections.

The World Health Organisation has urged countries to widen testing. Malaysia's tally of infections has jumped six-fold in 10 days to more than 1,500, exceeded only by China, South Korea and Japan in Asia.

By the end of the week, Malaysia will double daily testing capacity to 7,000, before stepping that up to 16,500 by the first week of April, Malaysia's Director-General of Health Noor Hisham Abdullah said.

Ministry data shows Malaysia had done 17,923 tests by Monday, when the biggest daily increase of 212 new infections took the country's total to 1,518.

That works out to about 560 tests per million people, fewer than Singapore's 4,500 tests per million, according to the city-state's most recent data, but well above Indonesia's figures.

Malaysia has recorded at least 14 virus deaths.

On Monday, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said Malaysia may extend the travel and movement curbs imposed to contain the spread of the virus. - REUTERS, JAKARTA POST

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