Jakarta. Social restrictions will continue in Jakarta for another fortnight after it saw an uptick in coronavirus cases since the start of the month, Governor Anies Baswedan announced on Thursday.
The capital city has been averaging 489 cases per day since Aug. 1, far above its July average of 323 cases, and overtook East Java as the province with the most cases of Covid-19 last week. It also has beaten its own daily record twice in the process.
Jakarta began to impose large-scale social restrictions, or PSBB, on April 10 and relaxed the regulation on June 5 as it entered the so-called transition phase, under which non-essential businesses and worship places were allowed to reopen at reduced capacity.
“We have decided to extend the transition period until August 27,” Anies said in a statement, as the city’s coronavirus cases jumped by 608 for a total of 27,761. It was the third highest one-day rise since the outbreak.
The city government will intensify measures to restrict public gatherings especially during weekends and Independence Day celebrations on Monday, the governor said.
Joint patrols involving city officials, soldiers and police will make sure public compliance to the health protocols, most notably the use of face masks at public places, Anies said, noting that violations to the simple medical advice remain rampant in the city.
Anies said the city has collected Rp 2.87 billion ($194,000) in fine from people caught not wearing masks when going to public.
Since July 1, more than 64,000 people have been sanctioned for failing to wear masks in public, according to the city government. The number of violators has jumped to 17,172 in the past week compared to 7,102 the previous week.
"We will apply a bigger amount of fine for multiple violations by either individuals or business entities and temporary closure of premises that fail to honor the health protocols,” Anies said without elaborating.
The Islamic Eid al-Adha holiday on July 31 could have contributed to the current surge in cases in the capital, according to a public health expert.
Eid al-Adha, when Muslims slaughter livestock in an annual ritual, is the second biggest holiday for Indonesian Muslims.
Increasing public activities with little regard for physical distancing during the holiday might have triggered a surge in new cases, according to Budi Haryanto, a public health professor with the University of Indonesia.
“If we trace back epidemiologically, cases were surging to 600 within five or six days after the holiday,” Budi said.
Laboratory tests can detect infection several days after a person contracted the virus due to the incubation period that may take up to 14 days.
The city saw a record 665 cases last Thursday, around a week after the holiday, and set a new high of 686 cases a day later. The seven-day average from August 6 was 539 cases, up sharply from the average of 433 cases in the course of seven days until the Muslim holiday.
But Budi also said increased testing capacity in Jakarta means that the city can detect a lot more confirmed cases than any other province..
Jakarta’s testing capacity is already five times the World Health Organization’s requirement for 1,000 diagnostic tests per 1 million population, Budi said.