Jakarta. Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin urges people who have gotten the Covid-19 vaccination to continue complying with strict health protocols, warning that vaccination alone would not be enough to quell a possible second wave of the pandemic in Indonesia.
Several European countries are reportedly facing surges in Covid-19 cases. This surge's possible causes are the more contagious new virus strain and the more relaxed mobility in Europe following the vaccine rollout.
Budi said the new SARS-CoV2 virus strain, named B117, had entered Indonesia since this January.
"Several countries in Europe are experiencing a rise in Covid-19 infections. From what we see, the surge is due to the new strain —which has entered Indonesia since January 2021— as well as an aggressive reopening," he said.
According to Budi, the Covid-19 infection rate is declining thanks to the micro-scale activity restriction and vaccination.
Hence, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has instructed him to find the balance between those two efforts."So the infection rate will hopefully continue to decline and do not undergo a surge like in Europe," Budi said.
Budi hopes those who have gotten the Covid-19 jab comply with the "3M" health protocols —wear masks, maintain a safe distance and wash hands. Strict compliance with the protocols can prevent people from contracting coronavirus, including the new strain.
Transmissible disease epidemiologist Atoillah Isfandiari also echoed the importance of following health protocols.
"What can guarantee a person does not get infected by a virus, whatever it is, is 3M health protocols," Atoillah, who is also Airlangga University's deputy dean for the public health faculty, said.
Atoillah noted how those who have received the vaccine can still catch the virus but will experience milder symptoms than those unvaccinated.
"The vaccine does not change nor close the nostrils and mouth. This is why the virus can still enter your body. What the vaccine does is to build immunity so the virus cannot cause symptoms."
"If infected, [it would only require] a lab diagnosis. Those vaccinated will not fall sick if they got infected. The vaccine shields our body from the inside, whereas the health protocols protect it from the outside," Atoilah said.