Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – The Indonesian government warned on Saturday that asymptomatic persons may act as unsuspected carriers of the highly contagious Covid-19 virus, as positive cases jumped by 81 to 450 on Saturday.
Six more patients died from the disease on Saturday, bringing the total death toll to 38, according to the government task force on the handling of Covid-19 outbreak.
"Data from the global research show that young people with stronger immune system become one of the factors that accelerate the spread of the disease because they can be infected without showing symptoms, so they don't self-isolate," task force spokesman Achmad Yurianto said in a daily video conference in Jakarta.
"We can become a source of transmission in our family. So please follow strictly the government's call to stay at home," he said.
According to the government data, Jakarta remains the hardest hit by the coronavirus with 267 cases, up by 44 from yesterday. The capital also reported 23 deaths accumulatively.
The government is procuring several types of drugs which Achmad said have been tested in other countries with promising results. One of them is malaria medication Chloroquine.
"This drug is for medication, not prevention. People should not buy and stockpile it at home. Chloroquine can only be bought with doctor prescription," he said.
On Friday, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said the government would procure two million pills of anti-influenza drug Avigan and 3 million Chloroquine pills to treat Covid-19 patients.
Achmad said 12 million surgical masks will be available at the Health Ministry on Sunday.
"We have been conducting rapid Covid-19 testing since yesterday afternoon, starting from several subdistricts in South Jakarta," he said.
"We will expand the works to encompass all areas at risk across the country. The aim of this mass testing is to identify more positive cases and isolate people to prevent further spread of the virus," he said.
People are encouraged to remain at home even if the test results come back negative, because there is always a possibility that the virus is still at the early stage of incubation and goes undetected, he added."When the results come back negative, there is no guarantee that we are free from the virus," he said.
A number of hotel operators have agreed to provide their rooms for quarantine facilities to cope with the limited hospital capacity, he said.
The government also will use the Asian Games Village in Central Jakarta into a makeshift Covid-19 hospital with thousands of beds, he added.