Jakarta. Indonesia has spent Rp 777.59 billion, or $50 million, on imported medical supplies since the coronavirus outbreak began in earnest in the country early last month and more imports are now being planned as the number of cases continues to grow.
The outbreak-related imports are dominated by face masks, which have totaled 17.1 million units, the director-general of Customs and Excise, Heru Pambudi, said in Jakarta on Wednesday.
Other medical supplies being imported included 3.26 million Covid-19 testing kits, over 390,000 packs of medicine, 1.49 million hospital equipment and 1.95 million units of personal protective equipment which included gowns, gloves and visors.
Imports from China accounted for 63.17 percent of the total value, Heru said. He added that Covid-19 related imports would only grow as the government has now delivered incentives and relaxed several regulations.
The government has lifted duties and import taxes on many medical items to increase domestic stocks and allowed commercial imports of medical supplies which were previously limited to government institutions and public service agencies.
"Those supplies were previously limited to non-commercial imports only, but we have relaxed the regulation. Importers can now buy them for sales in the Indonesian market so the products will become more affordable," Heru said in a teleconference in Jakarta.
The supplies include hand sanitizers, disinfectants, testing kits, reagents, medicines, vitamins, PPE and medical equipment. They are also exempt from VAT.
On the other hand, the government cannot entirely ban exports of Indonesian-made PPE and hospital equipment, Heru said.
"Indonesia is a key producer of PPE, including facemasks, but many of our factories operate within special industrial zones which from the very beginning were designed to serve the export markets," Heru said.
Separately, the Covid-19 Task Force on Wednesday reported 283 new confirmed coronavirus cases to bring the country's total to 7,418.
The number of patients who have recovered from the illness also increased significantly by 71 to 913, now well clear of the death toll of 635.
Task Force spokesman Achmad Yurianto called on residents in severely affected regions, most notably Greater Jakarta, to refrain from traveling.
"Please stay at home. You may not develop symptoms or just feel mild symptoms, but residents in affected areas can potentially become silent carriers. We need you to stay home to break the transmission cycle," Achmad said in his daily video conference.
He also reiterated the official government ban on mudik, the Ramadan exodus, when tens of millions of Indonesian Muslims from big cities return to their hometowns to celebrate Idul Fitri with their families.
"If you insist on going home, you will be placed under quarantine for 14 days. What's the point in your mudik if you have to spend two weeks in isolation?" Achmad said.
The government said the Ramadan exodus ban will apply until May 31.