JAKARTA: Indonesia has crossed the 100,000 mark for the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases on Monday (Jul 27), with scientists saying that it is hard to predict when the peak would be.
The country recorded 1,525 new infections between Sunday and Monday, bringing the total to 100,303 confirmed cases. Indonesia’s death toll stood at 4,838 while the number of recoveries was 58,173.
Forty per cent of infections in Indonesia are from the province of East Java and capital city Jakarta, both deemed as epicentres for the spread of the disease in the country.
Professor Wiku Adisasmito, the spokesman for the government's COVID-19 task force urged people to remain vigilant and obey health protocols at all times.
"Today we reached a psychologically significant figure. This serves as a reminder to everyone that we are still in a crisis ... and we cannot let our guard down in our fight against COVID-19," he told a press conference on Monday.
Prof Adisasmito however noted that Indonesia has also seen an increase in the number of recoveries recently. On some days, they have exceeded the number of new cases.
"We need to have more recoveries than new cases. We want to suppress the number of deaths and new cases. Those are our targets. We need everyone to cooperate to achieve these goals," he said.
Indonesia’s COVID-19 task force earlier predicted - back in April - that the country would surpass 100,000 cases in July. However, the government task force also predicted that the pandemic would peak between early May and the beginning of June.
The peak prediction was a miss, epidemiologist Professor Pandu Riono told CNA, adding that “at this stage it is hard to predict when the peak will be".
The University of Indonesia epidemiologist noted how Indonesia went from having 57,770 cases of COVID-19 on Jul 1 to 100,303 in less than one month.
Experts and medical workers have blamed the sharp increase on the lifting and relaxing of the so-called “large-scale social restrictions” to curb the pandemic.
Jakarta relaxed its social restrictions on Jun 5, while East Java capital Surabaya lifted its restrictions entirely on Jun 9, decisions which experts said were premature.
Mr Riono said the government should have reinstated the restrictions as soon as cases started to rise. He said that offices, shopping malls and public places should be closed while people should be banned from travelling.
“There has been an absence of government intervention to slow down the spread of COVID-19,” Mr Riono said.
Mr Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist from Australia’s Griffith University also said that it is hard to predict when the pandemic in Indonesia would peak, noting the low number of people tested every day.
“The current figure does not reflect the actual condition in the field,” Mr Budiman was quoted as saying by CNN Indonesia on Monday. “There could be up to ten times more (cases) than what has been reported.”
As of Monday, Indonesia has only tested a total of 800,000 people or 0.29 per cent of its 273 million population.
The country has been testing an average of 13,000 COVID-19 suspects daily, government figures show. Between 13 to 15 per cent of them tested positive, which is much higher than the World Health Organization’s standard of five per cent positive rate.
Looking ahead, the number of cases could continue to rise. An epidemiological model by the MIT Operations Research Center has predicted that Indonesia could surpass 400,000 confirmed cases by Oct 15.