JAKARTA: The Indonesian government is preparing for a spike in COVID-19 cases after an annual exodus of thousands of people to their hometowns for Idul Fitri and tourists sites being packed with visitors over the past few days, said Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin on Monday (May 17).
Speaking at a joint press conference with the coordinating minister for economic affairs and the head of the disaster agency, Mr Sadikin noted that there was an increase in COVID-19 cases after the previous holidays.
The increase in cases following public holidays was between 30 per cent to 90 per cent. Thus, the government has prepared extra beds for COVID-19 patients this time, said the health minister.
“We have anticipated it. Nationwide, now there are 70,000 isolation beds available for COVID-19 patients. The total number which has been occupied is 20,000. So there is still a backup of 50,000 beds.
“The same applies to ICU beds. Indonesia has 7,500 ICU beds for COVID-19 patients. And as of yesterday, 2,500 have been filled. So we still have an extra capacity of 200 per cent,” said the health minister.
Mr Sadikin said they have also ensured that there are enough stocks of medicines as well as health workers.
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Meanwhile, Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartanto said even though the situation is considered under control, 15 provinces have seen an increase in active cases such as in North Sumatra, West Sumatra and Riau. The same applies for Jakarta.
“Several things we also monitor. During the holidays, we saw high mobility, especially in agglomeration regions,” he said.
“There has also been an increase in (visitors to) tourism destinations …. A week before the holidays and during the four-day holidays, there has been an increase of 38 per cent to 100 per cent, especially in Jakarta, Subang and Pangandaran.”
Passengers at the Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Tangerang, on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, Dec 23, 2020. (File photo: Antara Foto/Muhammad Iqbal via Reuters)
Mr Hartanto, who is also the head of the COVID-19 mitigation and national economic recovery committee, said that a random test will be imposed on travellers from regions in Java who wish to enter Jakarta.
Travellers from Sumatra would also need to undergo a mandatory check when crossing to Java, he added.
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He said that 1.5 million people left the capital for the Idul Fitri holidays. Also, a total of 440,000 people went to Sumatra and 1.2 million travellers went to Java.
“This is what we are going to monitor, hopefully, there won’t be an increase in cases,” said the coordinating minister.
Indonesia’s COVID-19 cases peaked in February. Since then, there has been a decline in the number of new daily cases.
The head of the disaster agency Lieutenant General Doni Monardo said that Jakarta’s COVID-19 makeshift hospital, the 2018 Asian Games Athlete’s Village, is currently at 16.22 per cent occupancy, the lowest since it began operations last year.
This is in stark contrast to a few months ago when its bed occupancy rate (BOR) was about 90 per cent, he said.
However, he stressed that people should not be complacent.
“We will be able to feel comfortable if in mid-June the condition of COVID-19 in Indonesia is still under control,” he said while adding that one of the indicators would be the BOR of the Athlete’s Village.
On Monday, Indonesia recorded 4,295 new COVID-19 cases and 212 deaths. There are now more than 1.7 million COVID-19 cases and about 48,000 deaths nationwide.
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