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Indonesia posts worst daily rise in COVID-19 cases after outbreak among military cadets

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia reported its biggest single-day rise in coronavirus infections on Thursday, with almost half of the 2,657 new cases detected at a military training centre in West Java.

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So far, the world’s fourth most populous country has recorded 70,736 cases. Public health researchers suspect that due to the limited scope of testing so far, the actual case total could be far higher, though the government denies this, and has told people not to panic.

There were 58 new coronavirus-related deaths on Thursday, bringing the official total to 3,417, health ministry official Achmad Yurianto told a news conference.

Partial data for 20 of Indonesia’s 35 provinces gathered by volunteer group Kawal Covid-19 from local governments websites, however, showed there were a further 6,847 deaths of people who had not been tested but showed acute symptoms.

The central government does not include such cases, as untested patients could have died from other causes.

Yurianto attributed the increasing new cases to people not wearing masks as Indonesia eased lockdowns to help revive the economy.

He told reporters that a significant new cluster had emerged at a military training centre in West Java, where 1,262 cadets and trainers have tested positive for the disease.

“We implore the people to stay calm, not panic, because it’s being taken care of professionally according to international standards,” he said.

According to Yurianto, 13,732 people showing acute symptoms were under close medical observation, but had yet to be tested. Another 38,498 were being monitored for having come in contact with the virus.

President Joko Widodo told a meeting during a visit in Central Kalimantan province on Thursday that the country needs to control both the public health crisis and economic fallout.

“We need to manage the gas and the brakes. We can’t hit the gas on the economy but let the (COVID-19 outbreak) ratchet up.”

Indonesia’s gross domestic product may have shrunk by as much as 5.1% on-year in April-June from the blow of the coronavirus pandemic, but will likely expand in subsequent quarters, its finance minister said on Thursday.

Reporting by Stanley Widianto, Fanny Potkin, and Maikel Jefriando; writing by Fanny Potkin, Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore and Mark Heinrich

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