Removal of PCR and Antigen Tests Does Not Establish Endemic Status

JAKARTA, IDN Times – The government denies the assumption that the abolition of antigen and PCR tests for domestic travellers aims to hasten the determination of the status of the COVID-19 pandemic to be endemic.

The Main Expert Staff of the Presidential Staff Office Abraham Wirotomo emphasized that the relaxation of testing was implemented because the current pandemic situation was getting under control.

“The case data, hospital occupancy, and the effective reproduction number of COVID-19, all show that the pandemic is getting more and more well controlled. This is the basis why PPKM levels have been lowered in several areas and include relaxation of testing for travellers,” Abraham said in a written broadcast, Tuesday. (8/3/2022).

1. The government continues to find cases

KSP: PCR and Antigen Removal Not to Define Endemic StatusIllustration of rapid test results (IDN Times/Dini Suciatiningrum)

Abraham also dismissed the opinion that the removal of antigens and PCR for travellers showed the government was lax about testing COVID-19.

According to him, the current government is even more specific in carrying out COVID-19 testing, namely by using the approach surveillance active, either actively doing case finding or Active Case Finding (ACF) as well as epidemiological testing.

“Simply surveillance active, from the government which is actively pursuing targets by targeting certain areas. Like ACF in schools, random tests will be conducted on students and teachers for early detection whether there is a cluster or not. Then the close contact testing is still being continued,” said Abraham.

Also Read: Hurray! PCR and Antigen Test-Free Domestic Travel Starts Today

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2. Elimination of antigen and PCR tests if two doses have been vaccinated

KSP: PCR and Antigen Removal Not to Define Endemic StatusIllustration of COVID-19 vaccination (IDN Times/Anggun Puspitoningrum)

In addition, the government also looks at the data that Omicron is lighter than Delta, for that the hospital occupancy and death rates are more concerned than the case numbers.

Abraham reminded that the policy of eliminating antigen and PCR tests for domestic travelers only applies to those who have been vaccinated with two doses or have been completely vaccinated.

“So people who don’t want to testing-testing Again, if you want to fly, then immediately complete the vaccine,” said Abraham.

3. The policy has drawn criticism from a number of experts

KSP: PCR and Antigen Removal Not to Define Endemic StatusIllustration of a swab test (ANTARA FOTO/Muhammad Adimaja)

Previously, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment (Menko Marves) Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan revealed that domestic travel regulations no longer needed to attach negative antigen or PCR test results. This new rule is intended for people who have been vaccinated at two doses or completely.

The policy immediately drew criticism from a number of experts. This is because testing for COVID-19 is still considered to be an important thing to do to see the current pandemic situation. In fact, some consider the policy as an effort to hasten the determination of the status of a pandemic to be endemic.

Read also: KSP: The government is not in a hurry to make the status of the pandemic as endemic