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COVID-19: Is Mass Screening Needed?

Updated: Jul 24, 2023

On March 2, 2020, Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced that there were 2 Indonesian citizens who had tested positive for COVID-19. This made the public panic by flocking to buy masks and hand sanitizers in large quantities. The recent panic buying is detrimental to those who really need both items such as doctors, nurses and other health professionals who are directly handling patients suspected of coronavirus.

Then, what about the government’s next step to deal with the situation of the coronavirus spread? Currently, Indonesians, especially those in the Greater Jakarta, West Java and Banten area are encouraged to carry out self-isolation or independent quarantine at home to help reduce the spread of the virus. The reason is that only within 18 days of the announcement of the first positive case, there were 369 additional cases of patients being tested positive for COVID-19. The numbers may still look small, but compared to other European countries, the difference is very significant. In Britain, the cases reached 300positive patients on day 39, while France on day 42 and Italy on day 27. This is a warning to us that the spread of this virus is rapid. As of March 30, 2020, there were 114 cases of death due to the coronavirus and 64 survivors which placed Indonesia as the country with the highest death cases in Southeast Asia.

Cumulative prediction of positive cases of corona in Indonesia by experts can reach more than 35,000 cases (Gabriel, 2020) by the end of March 2020. Meanwhile, according to Elyazar, it can reach more than 70,000 cases as of April 20, 2020. This precarious condition requires appropriate and concrete steps to suppress the growth rate of new cases. In addition, asymptomatic conditions also play a role in this case. Research conducted on Diamond Princess cruise passengers stated that 73 passengers tested positive after 10 days of screening which had no prior symptoms. Thus, additional cases of coronavirus increase to 320 patients on the 15th day after the test.

Learning from South Korea’s experience in suppressing new cases, mass screening is being carried out as much as possible for the entire community. As of March 16, 2020, more than 270,000 people have already been tested. Physical distancing, self-isolation and tracking places visited by corona-positive patients are being carried alongside mass screening. These steps have proven to have a positive impact on declining the new cases from 909 cases on 29 February to 74 cases in early March.

It can be concluded that mass screening is really important for early detection of COVID-19, So that the virus transmission from asymptomatic people can be minimized. The fact that Indonesia does not have adequate mass screening tools, the public can help by self-isolating at home as we don’t know if we are already a carrier of the virus.

Transmission, as we don’t know if we are already a carrier of the virus, can endanger vulnerable people such as the elderly and people with other congenital diseases such as heart disease, diabetes, lung disease or pneumonia whose death rates are very high. The biggest hope for the Indonesian government right now is to provide a comprehensive COVID-19 examination kit as an effort to suppress the spread of the virus more optimally.

Writer : Ardina Ulya Editor : Iqmi Qaisah Ali, Mazidatun Maftukhah, Irza Husmelinda Translator : Mazidatun Maftukhah

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