Robertus Wardi & Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – The General Election Commission, or KPU, confirmed on Monday at least 37 of 687 candidates for the upcoming regional leader election have tested positive for coronavirus.
The shocking announcement came a day after a candidate in North Sumatra died from coronavirus-related disease.
All candidates were required to undergo a swab test before the three-day registration period that began on Friday.
"From the swab tests, we received information that at least 37 candidates have tested positive," KPU Chairman Arief Budiman said at a news conference at his office in Jakarta, indicating that the number could grow.
The 37 candidates come from 21 provinces, while many other districts have not submitted the test results to the KPU, he added. Arief didn't disclose identities of those candidates.
Swab test is mandatory for any candidate according to a KPU regulation.
If the result comes back positive, the candidate is required to self-isolate and take another test. The administrative procedure is deemed complete only after the candidate is free from the virus according to test results from certified medical facilities.
On Sunday, a candidate in Tanah Karo district, North Sumatra, died at hospital where he was being treated for Covid-19. Jambi Surbakti, former Tanah Karo district head, was admitted to Colombia Asia Hospital in the provincial capital of Medan after his test result came back positive. He had earlier announced his candidacy for the upcoming district head election.
The election was initially scheduled on Sept. 23, but was postponed to Dec. 9 due to the coronavirus outbreak. The upcoming election will elect nine governors, 37 mayors and 224 district heads.
The elected leaders will serve for only three years as the government and lawmakers have agreed to hold elections in all 34 provinces altogether in 2024.
That will become the world's biggest election event as the country will also elect a new president and members of the House of Representatives, the Regional Legislative Council, the Provincial Legislative Council and the District/Municipal Legislative Council in the same year.