Jakarta. The Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, has asked Indonesians aged 60 years and above not to leave the house for the next month to avoid Covid-19 severe sickness or death caused by the Omicron variant, which is spreading at a breakneck pace and is expected to peak in three or four weeks.
"I suggest for the next two weeks to a month, the people aged 60 years and above, to better stay at home for a while," Luhut said on Saturday at a virtual meeting, part of the 96th birthday celebration of Nahdlathul Ulama.
The largest Islamic organization celebrated the birthday with a series of events in Labuan Bajo, East Nusa Tenggara, on Saturday and Sunday.
Luhut, 74, said most people infected with the Omicron variant often fell ill only at a shorter period with milder symptoms than the Delta variant. But, for those aged 60 or over, unvaccinated, and have comorbid diseases, the latest variant remained as deadly as its predecessor, he said.
"Based on the data, most of those who died [from Omicron] were elderly, had comorbidities, and had not been vaccinated," Luhut said.
Data from the Ministry of Health showed more than 5.7 million people aged 60 years have yet to receive any dose of vaccine by Saturday.
There is about 21.5 million elderly in the country. Of that amount, only 15.6 million, or 73 percent of people aged 60 years or above, have received at least one dose of vaccine. More than 10.5 million (49 percent) received the second dose already, but only 863.000 had taken their third dose, the data showed.
Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the transmission rate of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 was very high, estimating the variant peak would occur at the end of February 2022.
"We still don't know how high the peak will be in Indonesia, which we estimate will occur at the end of February. But we have observed that in other countries, it can be up to 3 times to 6 times from the delta peak, which in Indonesia was more than 57,000 new cases per day," Budi said.
"We have to be prepared, be careful and alert, and don't need to be surprised," he said.
Indonesia reported 33,729 new cases on Saturday, the highest daily tally since September. The number of daily deaths has also climbed to 44, four times it was a week ago. The country now has close to 165,500 active cases, with Jakarta, West Java, Banten, and Bali combined accounting for 85 percent of the active cases.