Jakarta – Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has urged the public to use locally produced rapid testing kits developed by the Agency for the Assessment and Application of Technology (BPPT).
The minister said the testing kits cost Rp 75,000 (US$5.13) each and had a 98 percent accuracy rate.
"They used to be sold at Rp 150,000. I hope the price can get even lower," Luhut said on Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
He added that people should use such tests to reduce dependence on imported medical equipment and to support local industry.
Experts have raised concerns about the widespread use of rapid antibody testing as a prerequisite for certain activities during the pandemic. A post-market survey showed that many of the testing kits had sensitivities and specificities of less than 50 percent.
The Health Ministry suggested that rapid tests were not to be used for diagnosis on July 13. This is in line with the World Health organization's (WHO) recommendation that "a diagnosis of COVID-19 infection based on antibody response will [...] only be possible in the recovery phase."
Minister Luhut said the government would never impose any policies that put people at a disadvantage, especially in relation to the COVID-19 response.
"President Joko Widodo always reminds us to do what's best for the people," said the minister. (dpk)