A worker sprays water-based disinfectant at an electronic shop in Surabaya, East Java on June 16, 2020. East Java is the worst-hit province of the Covid-19 outbreak in Indonesia. (Antara Photo/Moch Asim)

East Java, Jakarta Struggle to Contain Covid-19 as Cases Hit New High


JUNE 28, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesia saw a new high in confirmed coronavirus cases on Saturday with 1,385 new cases to take the country’s total to 52,812, as two worst-hit provinces East Java and Jakarta continued to report the highest infection rate.

The previous high of 1,331 cases was reported on June 18.

East Java has surpassed Jakarta as the province with the most cases accumulatively since Friday, while daily cases in the capital city have mostly returned to the three-digit figure since early this month.

The total cases nationwide include 2,720 deaths, 37 more from a day earlier. The number of cured or discharged Covid-19 patients increased by 576 to 21,909.

East Java now has 11,178 Covid-19 cases, an increase by 277 from the previous day, while Jakarta registers a total of 10,994 cases.

To put this into perspective, Jakarta had 2,406 more cases than East Java on June 1. 

East Java is in a more difficult situation in every aspect. It has higher number of Covid-19 deaths than Jakarta, 813 against 624, and fewer recoveries, 3,619 compared to Jakarta’s 5,610. While East Java has more active Covid-19 cases than the capital, its hospital capacity is lagging behind.

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo visited East Java on Thursday to get firsthand knowledge of the real problems facing the province. The president later said he had learned that 70 percent of residents in the province failed to obey the basic health guideline of wearing face masks when in public places.

Mayor vs Governor

Local news reports speculated that a comprehensive handling of the outbreak in East Java was hampered by feud between East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa and Tri Rismaharini, the mayor of East Java’s capital Surabaya.

In one case, the mayor alleged that two mobile labs for Covid-19 remote testing donated by the National Covid-19 Task Force for the city had been taken by the provincial government and delivered to other districts.

The mayor, better known as Risma, even showed to journalists the record of her personal chat with task force head Dono Monardo about her request for the two vehicles that was ultimately approved, but the provincial government argued that Khofifah also submitted a similar request.

Risma’s plan to ban entry of travelers from outside Surabaya last month was also blocked by Khofifah, who said such a plan should get approval from the provincial government.

Second Wave of Transmission

Jakarta saw higher daily cases by seven-day average since it entered the “transition period” on June 5, which ended the so-called large-scale social restrictions that had been in place for eight weeks.

During the transition period, worship places and non-essential businesses including malls are allowed to reopen partially and operate at 50 percent of their capacity.

The current seven-day average of coronavirus cases in the capital stood at 170, in comparison to the previous high of 152 in the period ending April 17. When social restrictions were in place throughout May, the seven-day average was never above 120.

It raises concern that a second wave of transmission of the highly contagious virus is taking place in the capital.

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