Jakarta. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced on Monday the current social restrictions have been extended by another week, citing their early success in curbing the spread of Covid-19.
His remarks came as Indonesia reported the lowest number of daily cases since July 1, when a new wave of infections began to ravage the country attributed to the highly contagious Delta variant.
There have been 22,404 cases in the past 24 hours, taking the country’s total to 3.46 million. The record for the highest daily tally was over 47,000 cases on July 27.
But the daily Covid-19 death toll continued to paint a grim picture in the Indonesian outbreak, with a further 1,568 deaths in the 24-hour period to bring the total number of fatalities to 97,291, representing 2.8 percent of overall cases.
The daily death toll has topped 1,000 since July 16.
In addition, there are currently more than 523,000 active cases across Indonesia -- opening too soon could bring a hefty price.
The president said the month-long lockdown, known as PPKM, has proved to be effective in reducing the number of new cases and hospital admissions since it was extended on July 26.
The extended lockdown has “delivered improvements” in terms of reduced daily cases and active cases, higher recovery rate and lower hospital bed occupancy ratio, Jokowi said in a video message streamed live on the government’s YouTube account.
To maintain the momentum, the government decided to continue with the restrictions in stricken areas until August 9, he added.
“I thank all the Indonesian people for their understanding and support to the ongoing social activity restrictions,” the president said.
The government and all citizens are facing similar twin problems of life-threatening risks posed by the pandemic and the severe economic impacts due to restrictions, he added.
“Therefore, we have to press gas and brake pedals dynamically according to the latest updates on the spread of Covid-19 in recent days,” Jokowi said.
In a separate video conference, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Panjaitan said many district and cities remain under Level 4 or the highest risk level of the country’s Covid-19 alert system.
“They are put under the Level 4 not because of rising active cases, but rather because of an uptick in the fatality toll,” Luhut said.
The extended lockdown has helped reduce the number of active cases significantly since its peak in mid-July, he added.
Many people with severe Covid-19 symptoms were self-isolating at home without proper medical treatment, leading to a sudden surge in the death toll, Luhut said.
“We are creating task forces to pick up those tested positive [for Covid-19] from their homes and bring them to the isolation centers. There shouldn’t be more people dying at home while self-isolating,” he said.
The Level 4 risk alert applies across Java and Bali and 45 districts and cities in 21 other provinces.