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Nearly 1,300 at Indonesian military academy test positive

Nearly 1,300 people have tested positive for the coronavirus in the Army Officer Candidate School in West Java

BANDUNG: Nearly 1,300 people at a military academy in Indonesia have tested positive for the coronavirus, an official said, as the country struggles to contain the epidemic.

The Indonesian Army Officer Candidate School in the country's most populated province of West Java has been quarantined, and 30 people were initially hospitalised with mild symptoms, the army's chief of staff, General Andika Perkasa, said late on Saturday.

Of the 1,280 confirmed infections, 991 were cadets and the rest were staff and their family members, he said. Most had no symptoms.

Seventeen were in hospital on Saturday.

The outbreak was first detected when two cadets went to a medical facility after complaining of fever and back pain.

Both tested positive for Covid-19, sparking mass swab testing at the academy, which has 2,000 staff members and cadets.

It is not clear how the cadets were infected, Gen Perkasa said, but some staff members live outside the military complex.

The governor of West Java apologised for the outbreak and urged residents to restrict their movements in and out of the neighbourhood where the academy is located until it is brought under control.

Indonesia is the hardest hit country in South-east Asia with more than 74,000 known cases of Covid-19 and more than 3,500 deaths.

The real toll is widely believed to be much higher, however, with experts saying limited testing was understating the true scale of the crisis.

The World Health Organisation recently urged Indonesia to do more testing.

HUMAN TRIALS

In a separate development, a senior Thai official said yesterday that researchers plan to begin human trials of a potential vaccine for the coronavirus in November and are preparing 10,000 doses.

The aim is for a vaccine ready for use by late next year.

Following favourable results in trials on primates, the next step is to manufacture doses for human trials, said Professor Kiat Ruxrungtham, director of Chulalongkorn University's vaccine development programme.

"At first, we were going to send them in June, but it was not easy to plan everything," Prof Kiat told a news conference.

There are no approved vaccines for the virus that causes Covid-19, but 19 candidates are being trialled in humans globally.

China is leading the race, with an experimental vaccine by Sinovac Biotech.

"If everything goes according to plan, the vaccine will be ready for Thailand in the third or fourth quarter next year," Prof Kiat said.

As of yesterday, Thailand had a total of 3,217 confirmed infections.

The country, which has had 58 Covid-19 deaths, has reported no local transmissions in more than a month.

Malaysia recorded 14 new Covid-19 cases yesterday, bringing total infections to 8,718.

The Health Ministry said that of the 14 new infections, three were imported cases.

"From the 11 local infections, three are Malaysians while the remaining eight are foreigners," it said in a statement.

From the three local cases, two are from Sarawak and one from Sabah. - AFP, REUTERS, THE STAR

WORLD