REPUBLIKA.CO.ID, JAKARTA -- Weekly COVID-19 cases in Indonesia have finally reached its peak this week, amounting to 125.396 cases, much higher than the record high in January 2021, wherein weekly cases amounted to 89.902. As such, the government has decided to enforce strict measures in the form of an Emergency PPKM or restrictions on community activities from 3 to 20 July 2021.
Expert Team Coordinator and COVID-19 Management Task Force Spokesperson Prof. Wiku Adisasmito announced that quick and correct measures are essential to suppress the spike in cases, particularly in Java Island. “Thus, cooperation between all parties, whether it is the government or community elements, is required so that the spike in cases can continue to be suppressed,” Wiku explained.
Last week, Indonesia saw daily positive cases reach a record high - the highest since the pandemic began - with an additional 21.345 cases in a single day. “This indicates a second wave of positive COVID-19 cases in Indonesia,” explained Wiku.
The Task Force revealed that it took 13 weeks to reach the previous peak from the lowest point, equivalent to a 283 percent rise in cases. Meanwhile, it took only 6 weeks to reach this second peak from the lowest point, equivalent to 5 times higher or an increase of 381 percent.
Whereas Indonesia managed to witness a decrease in cases since the first peak for 15 weeks, with a total decline of up to 244 percent. “The rise in cases that began one week after the Eid holiday period indicates a quick impact after an extended holiday period is definitely possible. Initially, the rising cases seemed normal and the numbers were not too significant, following the 4th week after the holiday period, however, we witnessed a sharp increase which lasted for three weeks until it reached its second peak last week,” explained Wiku.
Citizens who chose to “mudik” or travel despite the travel ban that was put in place, as well as influx of returning travellers in the 1-2 weeks post Eid resulted in a significant increase in cases.
In addition, this development may also have been contributed by the emergence of new COVID19 variants that have entered the country and exacerbated by high mobility. These conditions have resulted in an early impact, seen at around 6 weeks, and is likely to continue till the 8th week.
Therefore, efforts to successfully control the spike in cases is dependent upon the readiness of each region in developing and implementing the most appropriate strategies on a regional level.
As a result, any spikes that occur can be immediately suppressed and controlled so as to reduce the burden on facilities, health systems, and health workers. Upon further inspection at the provincial level, three provinces, namely DKI Jakarta, West Java, and Central Java, followed by East Java, contributed greatly to the increase in cases in both the first and second peaks.
Meanwhile, South Sulawesi, which contributed to the first peak, did not contribute to the second peak and was instead replaced by the Special Region of Yogyakarta. It must be noted that these three provinces in Java island have consistently proven to be the most significant contributors to the two peaks that have occurred throughout the pandemic.
Naturally, any governmental efforts to handle the pandemic will not be effective if the people are negligent and careless in protecting themselves from potentially contracting and infecting others. “The community, especially in these three provinces, must contribute in suppressing the surge in COVID-19 cases. Handling efforts are collective efforts, for this reason, community initiatives in suppressing and controlling cases are very important,” said Wiku.
"If you are exposed, have symptoms of COVID-19 or have relatives affected by COVID-19, be honest and immediately report to the head of the local RT so that the Puskesmas can immediately follow up. Do not worry if tracing officers come to trace close contacts, and do not be afraid to get swabbed as this needs to be done so that positive cases are handled quickly to prevent it from getting worse,” continued Wiku.
The community must also continue to maintain discipline with regards to health protocols. They are urged to avoid being negligent and presume a false sense of security safety post-vaccine, as herd immunity can only be achieved when 70% of the population are vaccinated. Furthermore, the public can also participate in educating others around them regarding Covid19. This is important because various bits of knowledge still need to be properly disseminated to the public such as the correct use of masks, the importance of keeping distance, and addressing those who are afraid of getting vaccinated.
"Access valid and reliable COVID-19 information from the official COVID-19 Task Force channels, related ministries/institutions and other educational channels, and make sure the information submitted is confirmed to be true and not a hoax," concluded Wiku.
In these difficult times, gotong royong and working together to improve the situation is extremely important. Avoid blaming each other; the pandemic can be handled effectively if all elements of society and the government are united and help each other formulate the most appropriate strategy.
Although Indonesia is witnessing a spike in COVID-19 cases, the Government believes that through mutual cooperation, this spike can be handled properly. “Gotong royong between the government and the community is the main capital to fight back against the second wave that is occurring currently. In addition, this gotong royong is also supported by policy infrastructure in the form of PPKM, solidarity, and adequate community support,” explained Wiku.
The government has also learned from other countries in determining the correct strategy to deal with the surge in COVID-19 cases in this second wave. "Of course, testing, tracing, and treatment efforts will continue to be maximized, and we will not be weak for this, so that the spike in cases can be controlled quickly," concluded Wiku.