A swab test can cost more than a month's wages for many Indonesians.(Supplied: ANTARA FOTO/ FB Anggoro)ShareFacebookTwitterArticle share optionsShare this onFacebookTwitterLinkedInSend this byEmailMessengerCopy linkWhatsAppPrint contentPrint with images and other mediaPrint text onlyPrintCancelRight on Australia's doorstep, the world's fourth-most populated country is grappling with a coronavirus catastrophe as cases continue to rise.Key points:After a nationwide stay-at-home order, Jakarta announced a transitional period dubbed the "new normal"Experts say the "new normal" was misunderstood by the populationThe Government task force has been widely criticised about the handling of its responseIndonesia has recorded more than 1,000 infections every day for the past few weeks.Its total of more than 82,000 confirmed infections is the highest in South-East Asia and will soon overtake China, while the number of deaths could be much higher than the 3,783 reported by Johns Hopkins University.As the numbers continue to mount, concerns have been raised over the Government's response, including the commercialisation of testing kits, which have become too expensive for many Indonesians to afford.Indonesia has only conducted some 657,700 tests for a population of more than 270 million, which have returned an overall positive rate of about 12 per cent, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).Only the capital city of Jakarta has met minimum daily testing requirements established by the WHO of one test per 1,000 people.The number of tests in other parts of the country such as the densely populated provinces of East Java, West Java and Banten remains below 0.5 per 1,000 people per week.Did the Government prioritise the economy over public health?Loading...After a nationwide stay-at-home order, the Indonesian Government announced a transitional period in May dubbed the "new normal" to allow the resumption of economic activity following mass unemployment and rapidly rising poverty.The relaxation of restrictions came even as case numbers continued to rise."The state budget in Indonesia does not have the fiscal ability to provide a stimulus for middle-to-lower income communities," said Bhima Yudhistira, an economist at the Jakarta-based Institute for Development of Economics and Finance."The Government were also unable to swiftly move and manage the number of people who have lost their jobs, or the loss in retail and purchasing power due to the pandemic."Indonesian kids and COVID-19There remain grave concerns about the high rate of children dying from COVID-19 in Indonesia, even as the country transitions to relaxed social-distancing restrictions.Read morePandu Riono, epidemiologist and public health expert at the University of Indonesia, told the ABC the term "new normal" was not properly understood by the public.Large clusters started to appear shortly after restrictions were eased, erupting at factories and industrial areas in Central Java and, at its peak, contributing to 33 per cent of the national total."There is a flawed perception of the conditions in Indonesia because of the term [new normal]," Dr Riono said."Maybe the Government intended to keep the public calm, but the community should have still been made more aware of the threats [of the coronavirus]."When daily cases jumped to more than 2,000 per day last month, Mr Widodo's Government replaced the "new normal" slogan with "adapting to new habits", to quash any misunderstandings.But Dr Riono said it was too late."The figures represent a misunderstanding by the population," he said."The misconception has influenced people's behaviour, so it's no surprise that the number of cases has increased."Many can't afford expensive swab tests An Indonesian economist said the Government was unable to mitigate the number of people who have lost their jobs.(Antara Foto/Arif Firmansyah via Reuters)In Indonesia, test kits are not subsidised nor government-funded.The country's COVID-19 response is headed by a specialised task force run by the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, which also issues all import permits for test kits.All medical items related to COVID-19 go through the task force, bypassing the Ministry of Health and the National Agency of Food and Drug Control. A swab test, widely considered as the most accurate method of testing for COVID-19, cost an upwards of $200,
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