Jakarta – The Health Ministry revealed on Monday that East Java, Indonesia's new COVID-19 epicenter, had one of the lowest testing rates compared to other provinces even as it continues to record the highest number of daily new cases.
Health Ministry disease control and prevention director general Achmad Yurianto said in his daily press briefing that East Java had conducted only 1,428 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests per million population, far lower than Jakarta's 21,406 tests per million population.
Other provinces also had significantly higher testing rates, like West Sumatra (7,168), Bali (7,151) and Papua (4,436).
"This means that East Java needs to do even more massive PCR laboratory testing," Yurianto said.
East Java has recently emerged as the new epicenter for COVID-19 in Indonesia after surpassing the number of confirmed cases recorded by Jakarta last week.
According to the official government count, the province has recorded a total of 11,805 positive cases, with 863 deaths as of Monday, the highest in the country. Jakarta, which has long held the top spot, came in second with 11,237 confirmed cases and 625 deaths.
East Java also reported the most daily cases on Monday with 297 new cases, followed by Central Java and South Sulawesi at 198 and 188 cases, respectively.
According to the World Health Organization's latest weekly situation report on Indonesia published on June 24, East Java had a positivity rate of around 25 percent between June 15 and June 21, far from the WHO's provision of below 5 percent to impose "new normal" measures.
The province has nevertheless ended its large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) and looks unlikely to reinstate them even as experts call for stricter controls to stem the spread of COVID-19.