Motorcyclists ride past a large-scale social restriction (PSBB) poster in Gowa, South Sulawesi, last week. (Antara Photo/Abriawan Abhe)

Social Restrictions to Remain in Place Until We Have a Vaccine: Covid-19 Task Force

BY :NUR YASMIN

MAY 04, 2020

Jakarta. The head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, or BNPB, who is also the head of the National Covid-19 Task Force, Lt. Gen. Doni Monardo, said Indonesians should expect the current large-scale social restriction to remain in place until a vaccine for coronavirus is found.

"The Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs had said before a vaccine is found, we won't be safe from the virus," Doni said in a press conference on Monday.

According to a recent report by the World Health Organization (WHO), there are currently 120 potential vaccines for Covid-19 in various stages of development at the moment.

Most hope to have their version of the vaccine ready for clinical trials by the end of 2020 or early next year.

Indonesian state-owned pharmaceutical companies Biofarma and Kimia Farma, the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology and the Research and Technology Ministry are also developing their own vaccine for the coronavirus.

Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the WHO's Southeast Asia director, said Indonesia is among the world's largest vaccine manufacturers and has the ability to produce and distribute Covid-19 vaccines globally.

Even after a vaccine is found, Doni said it would take a while for the world to get back to normal.

Wearing a facemask, social distancing and frequent hand-washing will become parts of the "new normal" from now on, he added.

People Keep Flouting Social Restrictions

Doni said President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo had told officials to stamp down harder on residents who deliberately violate the large-scale social restriction (PSBB), especially people who insisted on returning to their hometown ahead of Idul Fitri. 

"The president said everyone should show more discipline and obey authorities. If they do, hopefully in July we can start returning to normal life," Doni said.

"Some suspected Covid-19 patients under observation [PDP] are still not following the rule [to self-isolate]. They put other people in danger, especially if they're asymptomatic," he said.

Currently, there are 238,178 people under surveillance (ODP, aka people who don't show symptoms of Covid-19 but might have the disease) and 24,040 suspected Covid-19 patients under observation, aka people who show symptoms of the disease but haven't been tested.

"Health officials in regional areas have to make sure these people are self-isolating at home or at designated health facilities," Doni said. 

As of Monday, Indonesia has reported 11,587 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 1,954 recoveries and 864 deaths.

According to Doni, the daily rise in new cases has fallen by 11 percent.

"This is no reason yet for a celebration. The figure might not stay for much longer because we expect to see many Indonesians returning from abroad – pilgrims and cruise ship crew," Doni said.

The Foreign Affairs Ministry said on Friday at least 2,300 more crew workers from 18 cruise ships are expected to arrive back in Indonesia soon. 

As of Tuesday, a total of 11,505 crew workers have already been repatriated.

Doni said the Covid-19 Task Force is still unable to significantly increase the number of Covid-19 testing due to staff shortage at hospitals and laboratories.

"We don't have enough resources in the laboratories, and we need more medical workers. Extensive testing can only happen if we have those," Doni said.

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