JAKARTA • Indonesia surpassed Singapore as the country with the most number of coronavirus infections in South-east Asia as the world’s fourth most populous nation ramped up testing across the archipelago to contain the pandemic.
Confirmed new cases jumped 1,031 in the past 24 hours, taking Indonesia’s total to 41,431, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto said at a briefing in Jakarta. That exceeded Singapore’s tally of 41,216, official data showed. The nation’s death toll stood at 2,276, also the highest in South-east Asia.
Indonesia has seen a surge in infections in recent weeks with the ramping up of virus testing, as the authorities began easing social distancing rules in Jakarta and other cities to revive an economy brought to a halt by the pandemic.
President Joko Widodo and other officials have called for steps to prevent a second wave of infections and threatened to reimpose social distancing rules to contain the virus.
While the majority of the infections in Singapore is from migrant worker clusters, Indonesia has reported cases from all its 34 provinces spread across a chain of islands.
The virus deaths in the country of almost 270 million people may be more than three times the official tally, according to LaporCovid-19 and KawalCOVID19, two open-source data platforms. “The current trend in daily cases appears to be reflecting the reality on the ground,” virologist Ngurah Mahardika at Udayana University in Bali said by phone. “I’m expecting the current wave to peak around June 21 and we should see the daily cases falling from then, but my model suggest that a second peak may come around Dec 21.”
A second wave of infections can be prevented if the authorities maintain strict social distancing measures to mitigate the spread of the disease, Mr Mahardika said.
Indonesia has scaled up average daily testing to almost 20,000 as targeted by Mr Joko, who says the disease will linger until a vaccine becomes available to everyone.