Indonesia vows to double Covid-19 testing after infection surge

Jakarta, Jul 13 (efe-epa).- Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo said Monday he wants to double Covid-19 testing to 30,000 a day due to an increase in infections in the country, the worst-affected in southeast Asia.

“Hospital facilities must be improved and PCR tests must be increased to 30,000 a day,” the leader wrote on his Twitter account before a meeting with his government.

He also called for health authorities to promote stricter rules for the population on the use of masks, physical distancing and hygiene to slow the spread of infections.

Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency reported 1,681 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the total accumulated to almost 75,700, and 71 deaths, putting the total at 3,606.

The World Health Organization urged Indonesia in a report last week to conduct further testing of Covid-19 patients under observation and monitoring to stem the increase in cases.

The WHO warned that Indonesian women have limited access to contraception due to restrictions imposed during the pandemic.

It also cautioned of the danger of malnutrition among pregnant women, which can affect unborn babies, due to the economic crisis.

Much of the Indonesian archipelago is in a de-escalation phase, including the reopening of schools in low-risk areas, although the country’s borders remain closed to foreign tourists.

Authorities on the island of Bali, one of the country’s most popular destinations for holiday makers, announced last week that it will start welcoming foreign visitors again from 11 September.

This will make it one of the first places in southeast Asia to open its international borders since the start of the pandemic.

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