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Indonesia to finalise emergency COVID-19 measures on Wednesday

Indonesia to finalise emergency COVID-19 measures on Wednesday

A woman reacts as she receives a dose of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) vaccine during the mass vaccination program at the Tangerang City Government Center, in Tangerang on the outskirts of Jakarta, Indonesia, June 30, 2021. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

JAKARTA: Indonesia is finalising emergency social restrictions aimed at containing a surge in coronavirus cases in the world's fourth most populous country, President Joko Widodo said on Wednesday (Jun 30).

"Today it will be finalised because the spike is very high," the president, popularly known as Jokowi told an event hosted by the Indonesian chamber of commerce, noting the restrictions would be applied on the islands of Java and Bali.

Authorities are mulling whether to keep the tighter restrictions for a week or two weeks, Jokowi said, without saying when he expected to announce the new measure.

Indonesia reported 21,807 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday and 467 deaths, one of six days of record cases since Jun 21.

The country has reported record rates of COVID-19 infections of more than 20,000 in recent days, in a new wave fuelled by the emergence of highly transmissible virus variants and increased mobility after the Muslim fasting month.

Movement curbs were tightened last week in so-called "red zone" areas where cases have jumped, but health experts said these have not been sufficient to stop the spread of the virus.

READ: Indonesia formulating tighter COVID-19 measures, public should not panic over WhatsApp messages: Minister's spokesperson

READ: Indonesia's COVID-19 situation nears 'catastrophe', says Red Cross

The hospital bed occupancy ratio was 72 per cent nationally, Jokowi said, but local authorities say rates were higher in several cities including Jakarta, where medical emergency units have been shifted to tents outside hospitals.

"I ask that we all be careful and don't let our guard down. Don't just talk about the economy, while we don't see the health aspect," Jokowi said.

The president has previously resisted calls from health experts for full lockdowns and warned last week that curbs should be implemented so that they avoid "killing" the economy.

In a bid to halve the current daily cases to below 10,000, Indonesia is proposing tighter restrictions on movement and air travel, a ban on restaurant dining and closure of non-essential offices, according to a government document seen by Reuters.

The proposals, which were preliminary and have yet to be endorsed, were made by the coordinating ministry for maritime affairs and investment and would apply from Jul 3 to Jul 20, on the islands of Bali and densely populated Java.

The document recommends critical sectors remain open but for malls to close and a work-from-home policy for non-essential workers.

It suggests reduced public transport capacity and requirements of vaccines or COVID-19 tests for domestic air travellers.

Jokowi on Wednesday also pledged to accelerate the country's vaccination campaign to achieve a target of one million doses per day in July and two million in August.

"There is no bargaining", he said, noting vaccination rates had fallen short at 200,000 to 300,000 shots per day recently.

Just 13 million Indonesia have received two vaccine shots. Out of its population of more than 270 million, 181.5 million are set to be vaccinated by January 2022.

Indonesia reported 20,467 more infections on Tuesday and 463 more deaths, bringing the total to 2.16 million cases and over 58,000 deaths.

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Source: Reuters/nh

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