The Indonesian government, through the new coronavirus (COVID-19) mitigation task force, will be conducting free polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests jointly with national pharmaceutical company PT Kalbe Farma Tbk.
National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Prevention Deputy Lilik Kurniawan said in an virtual press conference on Thursday (16 April) that the COVID-19 mitigation acceleration has received support from the reputed drug producer, which has been providing supporting labs for PCR tests with a capacity of 8,000 tests a month.
The tests are free in hospitals designated for the treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Kalbe Farma chief Sie Djohan reiterated his commitment to providing preliminary donations worth Rp 25 billion (S$2.28 million) through various channels since the COVID-19 outbreak hit Indonesia.
The company will distribute PCR, rapid test kits, as well as personal protective clothing — or alat pelindung diri (APD) — to hospitals and clinics in Jakarta and other regions, Kontan reported.
Indonesia has carried out 36,431 PCR tests since early March as of Wednesday (15 April), CNBC Indonesia reported.
This means that the average numbers of tests carried out daily are less than 1,000.
The difference between PCR and rapid test
PCR tests detect COVID-19 by taking samples of throat or nasal swabs of either people with potential symptoms of COVID-19 or people who had contacts with confirmed COVID-19 patients.
It takes a few hours or even days to get PCR test results, making it more accurate than rapid tests that utilise blood samples.
Rapid tests are seen as inaccurate, as they cannot diagnose COVID-19.
If someone has positive rapid test results, he or she must take a swab test for further diagnosis.
If the result is negative, the patient must either repeat the test 7-10 days later or choose self-isolation for 14 days.
It takes 14 days for antibodies to form in people who had undergone the rapid tests.
Therefore, if a patient takes a rapid test today after being exposed to COVID-19 the previous day, the result will be a false negative.