Far more concerning are the alarmingly low testing rates and the proportionally high death rates.
The Worldometer website ranks Russia 18th in the world for conducting 107,445 test per 1 million people. The United States is 27th, with 80,750 tests per 1 million people, Brazil is 108th with 11,302 tests per million and India is 138th with 4530 tests per one million people.
Indonesia is languishing in 163rd spot, conducting just 2123 tests per one million people.
On Thursday, it recorded 1331 new infections from just 10,381 people tested — that’s an infection rate of nearly 13 per cent.
But the world’s fourth most populous country, home to nearly 270 million people, has only recently cracked 10,000 people tested per day. That’s about the same testing capacity as the states of New South Wales (7.5 million people) and Victoria (6.3 million people).
Officially, 2339 people have died across Indonesia but Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan believes that more people than that died of the virus just in his city in March and April alone. Jakarta, the capital, has a population of 10 million.
Despite the clear upward trend in infection rates, much of the country has begun to relax restrictions. Public transport, flights, shopping centres, churches and mosques are all beginning to re-open in cities including in the capital, though there at least infection rates appear to be slowing.
The holiday island of Bali recorded 66 cases on Thursday, a new daily record, but officials are considering welcoming tourists back from China, South Korea, Japan and Australia.
The economic imperative to revive tourism — the downturn has smashed people’s livelihoods —appears to be driving this idea and the broader push to reopen the economy.
Even more concerning is the number of children who have died of the virus. Reuters recently reported that hundreds of children were believed to have died from COVID-19.
Officially, the death toll for people under 18 is 28 but another 380 deceased children had been classified as “patients under monitoring” — meaning they displayed the symptoms of the virus but had not been tested.
Almost from the get-go, Indonesia’s government has handled this pandemic poorly.
The Indonesian government’s coronavirus response has been dreadful. Early on the Health Minister declared that the power of prayer would protect the country. Then President Joko Widodo admitted information had been withheld from the public to avoid causing alarm. Then there were much-delayed lockdowns, an on-again off-again ban on people travelling home during major religious holidays, poor testing rates and now the easing of restrictions as case numbers rise.
It took until March 2 for the government to even admit to its first case despite overwhelming early evidence to contrary.
The government now has two choices: take much stronger steps to stop the spread of the disease, including ramping up testing and reimposing lockdowns, or keep bumbling along at the cost of lives.
James Massola is south-east Asia correspondent based in Jakarta. He was previously chief political correspondent, based in Canberra. He has been a Walkley and Quills finalist on three occasions, won a Kennedy Award for outstanding foreign correspondent and is the author of The Great Cave Rescue.