JAKARTA: President Joko Widodo said yesterday that Indonesia has extended its pandemic-related restrictions until July 25 as coronavirus infections remain high, aiming to gradually ease restrictions next week if infections decline.
Covid-19 cases in Indonesia are currently among the highest in the world due to the rapid spread of the Delta variant, despite the introduction of the most stringent restrictions on movement of people during the pandemic this month.
On July 3, Indonesia imposed Covid-related restrictions on Java, Bali and other cities in the archipelago, including forcing nonessential workers to work from home, restricting travel and closing shopping malls.
After the restrictions came into effect, Djokovi, as the well-known president, announced that the number of infected people began to fall.
“If the downward trend in the number of cases continues to decline, from July 26, the government will begin to gradually mitigate the punishment,” he said in a virtual address.
Over the past week, the number of infections has repeatedly reached about 50,000 per day. The death toll on Tuesday also surpassed 1,000 for the fifth day in a row.
The health care system in some areas has been pushed to the limit due to the flow of patients, and Indonesia reported a record 1,338 coronavirus deaths on Monday.
Tri Younis Miko Vahyono, an epidemiologist at the University of Indonesia, said the government should not rely on the number of infections as a measure when deciding whether to relax restrictions that are designed to contain the outbreak.
“Right now, the number of possible cases among the communities is still very high, many are dying, and the government turns a blind eye to it,” he said.
Despite fewer infections this week, the positive rate remained high at 33% on Tuesday. From June 30, the rate exceeds 20%.
Meanwhile, millions of Muslims on Tuesday celebrated Eid al-Adha, one of the most important Islamic festivals, amid coronavirus-related restrictions, although some mosques reportedly violated restrictions and held mass prayers.
In the ultra-conservative province of Aceh, which is not part of the government’s highly restricted red zone, photographs show a crowded mosque with exposed people. – Reuters