JAKARTA: Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced on Monday (Aug 2) that the current restrictions put in place to curb the spread of COVID-19 will be extended until Aug 9.
Several cities and regencies, including the Indonesian capital Jakarta, have been under Level 4 curbs, which restrict people's movements. Only employees in essential and critical sectors such as energy and health are allowed to go back to their workplaces.
President Widodo said that the measures have led to "improvements on a national level” in terms of the new COVID-19 cases daily, the number of active cases, recoveries and hospitals' bed occupancy rate.
“The government decided to continue the enforcement of PPKM (community-level public activity restrictions enforcement) Level 4 from Aug 3 to 9 in certain regencies and cities with restrictions in activities and mobility depending on each areas' conditions,” he said.
“To ease the burden caused by the restriction of activities and mobility, the government will continue to provide social aid.”
The president had announced a new policy last week that allows regions to be classified into four levels based on their risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Level 4 areas are regions with the highest level of restrictions, as they have more than 50 confirmed cases daily per 100,000 people. Traditional markets and small businesses are allowed to open but with reduced capacities and operating hours.
Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan said nearly all cities and regencies will continue to impose PPKM Level 4, with the exception of 12 regencies and cities which have been downgraded to PPKM Level 3 and one regency that will now impose PPKM Level 2.
The minister said the areas will be specified later in a decree issued by the Home Affairs Ministry.
“The enforcement of PPKM Level 4 has shown pretty good results. A number of provinces have seen a decline in the number of cases as well as bed occupancy rate,” said Mr Panjaitan, who is leading the implementation of the restrictions in the islands of Java and Bali.
“This provides a good hope but we have to remain careful because we are dealing with this Delta variant.”
Mr Panjaitan noted that although the daily numbers of cases are declining, some areas still have high numbers of deaths.
“We are hoping that the situation (in these areas) will improve this week,” he said.
Meanwhile Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto, who is leading the implementation of the restrictions outside of the two islands, said that PPKM Level 4 will be imposed on 45 cities and regencies in 21 provinces that have seen a rise in the daily number of infections.
Indonesia has been experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 infections due to the Delta variant, which experts said are found in 95 per cent of cases reported.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said earlier on Monday that the second wave has peaked.
“We can see that the peak is behind us particularly in areas in Java,” he said, referring to Indonesia’s most populous islands where 50 per cent of the country’s population lives. “We are starting to see some improvements although I know that it is not 100 per cent (back to normal).”
Indonesia recorded more than 22,000 new cases on Monday. At the height of the country's second wave in mid-July, there were more than 50,000 infections daily.
The health minister credited the fall in cases to the PPKM policy and the government’s efforts to address shortages in hospital beds and medical oxygen.
Mr Sadikin, however, warned that although Java was seeing a decline in new infections, other regions across the country are posting an increase in cases.
“We expect to handle (the rising infection) outside of Java more quickly, because all we have to do is replicate what we have done in Java,” the minister said.
Indonesia has logged more than 3.4 million COVID-19 cases and 97,000 deaths since the pandemic began.