Several health workers at Dr. Loekmono Hadi Hospital pay the last respect to their colleague, Wulan Ningrum, who died from Covid-19 on June 2, in Kudus, Central Java. (Antara Photo/Yusuf Nugroho)

Gov't Extends Micro-Scale Restrictions as Covid-19 2nd Wave Is Imminent


JUNE 14, 2021

Jakarta. The government has extended micro-scale restrictions on community activities, known as PPKM Mikro, until June 28 across Indonesia in an attempt to stem the spread of the Covid-19 spread following a dramatic spike in weeks after the Idul Fitri holiday due to people dropping health protocol and the arrival of more infectious coronavirus variant. 

"The PPKM Mikro will be extended from 15 to 28 June 2021, considering the risk zoning in every region," the Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto said in a statement late on Sunday. 

The government began the biweekly micro-scale restrictions in Jakarta at urban hamlets or village levels instead of entire cities or provinces in January to balance pandemic mitigation and economic recovery.

Since then, the measures have been extended ten times and expanded to cover the entire country, but there was much about its implementations to be desired. For one, the measure could not prevent the new Covid-19 spikes following the Idul Fitri holidays, when millions from big cities or abroad ignored the government's travel ban to return to their hometown.

"The reason is that during the holidays, many people were probably euphoric because of vaccinations. The second was also the entry of new strains that spread very quickly, so we began to see a significant increase in several areas, especially Central Java, " Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Sunday.

According to the National Police, there was an increasing number of public gatherings — from family gatherings to pilgrimages — across Indonesia after Idul Fitri, with people neglecting health protocols.

"[The number of new cases] is increasing because there is a tendency for people to lose discipline regarding wearing masks," the National Police Chief Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo said last week. 

Indonesia reported 9,898 new cases and 149 deaths from Covid-19 on Sunday, with only 4,655 recoveries. That increased the number of active cases by more than 5,000 cases in just a day, a daily jump last seen on Jan 22. 

President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo held an emergency meeting on Sunday with his cabinet members and telling them to assist the regional governments with Covid-19 mitigation. Jokowi said that the mitigation must emphasize health protocol implementation, especially mask wearing  — a measure that can reduce the risk of transmitting Covid-19 by up to 98.5 percent. 

The government must also accelerate genome sequencing to track the transmission of the coronavirus' new variant, Jokowi said in the meeting. 

Delta Variant

On Sunday, the Health Ministry said that the SARS-CoV-2 Delta variant, first detected in India, was responsible for a dramatic Covid-19 spike in Kudus, Central Java, in the past two weeks. 

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the variant came to the region, piggybacking many Indonesian migrant workers returning home through seaports. Also, the loading and unloading activities in the ports forced many to be in contact with transport ship crews coming from India, Budi said.  

"We have found out that many migrant workers returned home through seaports. We usually take good care of the airport," Budi said. 

A report from the Gajah Mada University on Friday showed that it found 28 out of 34 Covid-19 virus samples from Kudus that it examined were the Delta variant. 

Budi said the Delta variant could spread faster than previous virus variants and was likely responsible for the Covid-19 increase in Central Java. 

The province reported 2,579 new cases on Sunday, 27 percent higher than its previous peak in January. In the past week, Central Java's average daily cases have increased by 87 percent to around 1,500 cases per day. 

The ministry also observed similar increases in other provinces. Jakarta saw 123 percent increases in average daily cases to about 1,800 cases in the past week, while West Java saw a 29 percent increase to over 1,300 in the same period. 

The spikes led to hospital overrun in the three provinces. The bed occupancy ratio (BOR) in Covid-19 hospitals Jakarta was at 68 percent on Saturday, followed by Central Java (67 percent) and West Java (65 percent), higher than the national average of 50 percent. The Health Ministry viewed BOR above 60 percent as alarming. 

In Kudus, 358 health workers were infected by the coronavirus, further stressing the district's hospitals that virtually has no bed left to treat its Covid-19 patients. At least one of the health workers died from the disease, Antara news agency reported.