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Highlight in the media today: Government to replace rapid antibody test with antigen tests, Anies: Cities bordering Jakarta should also ban dine-ins to curb virus, Govt and House pass 2021 state budget.

The government appears to be looking into using rapid antigen test as a replacement for the rapid antibody test. The antigen  tests are seen as cheaper and faster but less accurate than the gold-standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

Antigen tests use nasal or throat swab samples to detect certain proteins on the surface of the coronavirus. These tests do not require advanced lab equipment and come in the form of paper strips resembling home pregnancy tests.

The PCR tests, though accurate, are expensive for many Indonesians as they can cost more than Rp2.5 million. Meanwhile, the WHO announced on Monday (September 28) that some 120 million antigen tests costing $5 each would be made available to poorer nations.

Experts are on board with the plan but have said that further confirmation by PCR tests is necessary, especially if someone tests negative but shows symptoms indicative of COVID-19.

Studies of antigen test kits of various brands cited by the WHO have shown that their sensitivity ranges between 0 and 94%, meaning that the chance of false negatives can be high. However, their specificity is consistently above 97%, meaning that the chance of false positives is low.

As of October 1 15:46 (GMT+7), Indonesia had confirmed 291,182 COVID-19 cases, with 218,487 recoveries and 10,856 deaths. In the past 24 hours, the country had reported 4,174 new cases from 43,592 specimens tested.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan and COVID-19 Task Force Head Doni Monardo have called for stricter lockdown rules in Greater Jakarta, as the capital continues to register the highest number of daily cases in the country. Anies said that the rule of only allowing restaurants to take takeaway orders could be effective in curbing the transmission only if it was applied to all municipalities on the outskirts of Jakarta.

In response to the recommendation, Maritime Affairs and Investment Coordinating Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said that cities bordering Jakarta would have another week to decide whether they would impose stricter social distancing measures.

Cities around Jakarta, like Bogor and Depok in West Java, have only imposed a curfew for malls, cafes, and restaurants, allowing them to operate until 6:00 P.M. and serve customer dine-ins during the day.

Previously, some ministers have expressed their concern that tough social restrictions would deliver a more severe blow to the economy.

The government and the House of Representatives (DPR) passed the 2021 state budget bill into law on Tuesday (September 29). The 2021 State Budget Law targeted the economic growth to rebound to 5% next year, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said on Tuesday.

The economic growth in 2021 will be driven by gradual recovery in domestic consumption and the government will push government spending to maintain people’s purchasing power amid the new normal, Sri said. Controlling the pandemic will be the key factor to ensure growth, she added.

The government will prepare Rp2.75 quadrillion in state expenditure to fuel the virus-battered economy next year. It will continue its development programs as it looks to raise Rp1.74 quadrillion in state income to fund spending on infrastructure, healthcare, and stimulus, among other things.

On that basis, the budget deficit is expected to reach Rp1 quadrillion, or 5.7% of gross domestic product (GDP), lower than the estimated 6.34% of GDP this year as the government will slightly cut its spending while at the same time slightly increasing revenue from tax.

Source:

  • Kompas, September 30, 2020, Indonesia records 4,174 new cases

  • The Jakarta Post, October 1, 2020, p.2, Experts advise caution with antigen tests for screening

  • The Jakarta Post, October 1, 2020, p.1, Dine in or take out?: Officials debate how to curb COVID-19

  • The Jakarta Post, October 1, 2020, p.1, Government, House pass 2021 state budget

  • Kompas, October 1, 2020, p.10,  Covid-19 budget 43.8% realized

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