Dina Manafe, Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – The number of patients recovering from coronavirus in Indonesia hit a new record of 523 on Saturday, almost double the previous record of 285 on May 15. Just above 7,000 patients have recovered from the disease so far.
Jakarta reported 266 more patients who have recovered from the respiratory illness. Earlier this week, the National Covid-19 Task Force said occupancy rate at hospitals designated for coronavirus patients in Jakarta has dropped below 50 percent, as the epicenter is moving to East Java.
The country saw 557 new cases in the 24-hour period, bringing the total number of infections to 25,773. The nationwide tally included 1,573 deaths, 53 more than yesterday.
East Java led Saturday's statistics with 199 new cases, almost double than Jakarta's 101. East Java now has a total of 4,613 confirmed cases of Covid-19 and is closing in on Jakarta, the hardest hit by the outbreak with 7,229 cases.
During the last 20 days, the gap between the two provinces has been reduced by more than 1,000 cases.
Tri Yunis Miko Wahyono, an epidemiologist with the University of Indonesia, said improved testing capacity in East Java was among key factors to the sudden increase of confirmed cases in the province.
When Jakarta identified first cases in early March, there were reports in East Java's capital, Surabaya, that nine patients were suspected of having the virus and several of them ultimately died. But those cases couldn't be immediately verified due to a lack of testing.
The absence of mass testing in the wake of the country's outbreak has led to the disease to spin out control in East Java and caused a massive number of cases recently, he said.
Jakarta at the time was the only province to own labs with swab testing capability.
Tri added contact tracing didn't run well in East Java as many suspected carriers had failed to inform health authorities for some reasons.
"Once the contract tracing abruptly stopped, the number of community transmission increased significantly. There are cases contacts refused to be interviewed, paving the way for the virus to continue spreading," he said.
West Java came third with 2,231 cases, an increase by 20 from the previous day. South Sulawesi remains unable to put the outbreak under control with 42 more cases to a total of 1,510.
It overtook Central Java as the fourth most-affected province earlier this week and became the only province outside most-densely populated island of Java to join the top five.