Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – Indonesia has reported more than 1,250 new confirmed coronavirus cases over the past two days, the first time there were more than 1,000 cases in a 48-hour period since the outbreak began in early March.
The National Covid-19 Task Force said the total number of cases had reached 16,006 on Thursday after a daily increase of 568 cases, the second-highest after a record 689 cases a day earlier.
Task Force spokesman Achmad Yurianto said the significant increase was attributable to improved testing capacity at regional level.
"If we take a look more carefully at the distribution of new cases today and yesterday, we will see that regions who previously had to wait a long time between specimen collection and lab testing are the ones that are now seeing the sudden increase," Achmad said in a video conference.
"For example, Southeast Sulawesi reported 91 new cases yesterday because they can now conduct lab testing on their own. They no longer have to send swab samples to [South Sulawesi's capital] Makassar for tests," he said.
Previously, Southeast Sulawesi had to fly specimens to Makassar and wait for days before they could receive the results due to flight restrictions.
On Thursday, South Sumatra reported 119 new cases, second only to Jakarta – the epicenter of the Indonesian outbreak – that reported 134 more cases.
It was the first time South Sumatra had reported more than 100 cases in a day. This time the new cases were shared more evenly among the country's 34 provinces.
Twenty-six provinces reported new cases on Thursday, with East Java's 91 new cases a worrying trend after the province surpassed West Java to rank second in terms of total cases and fatalities several days ago.
Jakarta still had the most number of cases with 5,688 or 35.5 percent of the national figure, followed by East Java (1,863), West Java (1,565) and Central Java (1,066).
The remaining provinces have fewer than 1,000 cases each.
Achmad said the national death toll had now reached 1,043, 15 more than yesterday. Deaths in probable Covid-19 cases were not included in the official tally.
On a more positive note, 231 patients have recovered in the past 24 hours to bring the total number of recoveries to 3,518.
Achmad said the number of probable Covid-19 cases in hospitals (PDP) stood at 33,672, although it could fall once provinces come out with more data on those who have been tested.
The number of persons under surveillance for suspected coronavirus (ODP) increased by 2,340 to 258,639, the spokesman said.