News |

Jakarta Needs Better Solution as the City Failed to Contain the Pandemic during the Transition

NEWS | 25 July 2020
Jakarta may look forward to going back to stricter social restriction to isolate the transmission of the Covid-19 but businesses must also need protection to avoid further impact. Unsplash/NOW!JAKARTA

Jakarta has seen the flattening curve during the transition in July but the city government has decided to extend the social restriction for another 14 days. Even though Indonesia’s capital city has proven the effort to lower the transmission, the Indonesia Covid-19 figure seems to indicate an odd proportion with an average of new cases up to 1,000 - 2,000 reported daily as other regions including East and West Java find difficulties control the virus.

With evaluation from experts ranging from epidemiologists to disaster management, the city needs to continue the attempt to isolate the virus from transmitting to more people, keep the eye on citizen mobilisation as the economic activities start to getting back to normal. The result of the evaluation demands better containment efforts and stricter sanction for violators of the health protocols imposed during the pandemic.

Jakarta’s Governor Anis Baswedan stated in the briefing that easing the restriction is still very risky even though the city has the World Health Organization’s (WHO) requirement for the minimum daily number of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, the standard preparedness of health facilities, as well as enforcement of the protocols to lower the rate of the reproduction number of the viral virus. As long as the vaccine is not available yet, the experts suggested that the Covid-19 case has the potential to increase again.

“The effective reproduction number [Rt] has increased which indicates an acceleration in Covid-19 transmission. It would be very risky to further ease restrictions and enter the next phase,” Governor Baswedan said in the briefing on 16 July.

Jakarta has imposed extension of social restriction for several numbers, describing it as a "transitional" phase underpinned by the gradual reopening of several essential services sectors. The government considers the evaluation form the expert and the task force, a dedicated team for the pandemic handing, hinted that it will lead to imposing a stricter punishment on those who violate the protocols.

According to The Jakarta Post, the government defended that the spike of the new cases was a result of a higher number of tests performed: 3,600 and 3,194 people tested per 1 million population in each period between 2 to 8 July and 9 to 15 July. The total number of people tested during the two-week extension period was 67,283 – just 60 per cent of the number of people tested in the previous month alone.

Biostatistician Iwan Ariawan of the University of Indonesia's Public Health School said that the faculty's team had recommended the administration either to restore the stricter social restriction (PSBB) or continue with the transitional phase, while also placing an emphasis on stronger efforts to improve the implementation of health protocols. Today, the city is focusing on local social restriction in the level of sub-district and neighbourhood (RT and RW) to protect people within the area of residentials and meeting point in order to easily impose the isolation if there is an emerging new case in a certain area.

“If the current situation remains,  meaning behaviours do not improve, it would take a very long time to flatten the curve. We predict that it won't even end by December,” Ariawan said.

Jakarta Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) has declared the statement and punishment to 25,070 people not wearing masks since April, broken down into 1,708 who paid the fine outright and 23,362 who had to do community service tasks such as cleaning gutters and streets. The agency has collected IDR 572,16 million (USD 39,804) in fines, with IDR 310,81 million just from individuals who failed to wear a mask.

Other experts suggested that instead of merely reminding people to follow health protocols, external intervention from professionals would prompt a better "psychological effect" toward behavioural change followed with the proper education and guidance available to be accessed by the public in general. As the Minister of Foreign Affairs stated that the international partnership with vaccinee providers will estimate the distribution to the herd immunity by the least in early 2021, Presiden Jokowi urges his cabinet to accelerate the process in making the vaccine available as soon as possible for at least three months.