The number of Covid-19 cases in Indonesia continues to rise as daily reports show an average of 1,000 to 2,000 new cases. The fourth-largest populated country in the world has seen a significant surge after the government decided to open the economy and the general public have a false perception that the pandemic is going to be over soon.
In July, during the transition period to ease the social restriction, the archipelago nation has already recorded the highest death of Covid-19 with 1727 casualties (on 19 July). During Eid-Al-Adha, the capital city, Jakarta set back the status to ‘red’ as the Covid-19 task force mentioned that there are 53 spots in the region to be considered ‘red zone’, the epicentre of the virus. Since the first cases reported in March, the Covid-19 figure in Indonesia has reached hundreds as the government agency reported 113,134 cases in total with 5,302 deaths, and 70,237 people have recovered from the contagious disease, per 3 August.
One of the pivotal factors that lead to the rising cases in Jakarta and other regions is no other than the public itself. Many of them have disobeyed health protocols suggested by the government such as practising social distancing, self-isolation, and self-protection.
The latest survey conducted by Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in July indicated that 77 per cent of Jakarta residents are confident that the virus won’t harm themselves and most of them believe that the virus is less harmful. Even though news outlets have reported big fatalities such as a specific case that was experienced by a family in Surabaya where most of the family members have died due to Covid-19.
There have been critics stating that Indonesia is too late to establish the team to curb the outbreak, making the country frantic to handle the crisis. The government also has been criticised for their communication strategy to persuade and earn the understanding from the public to be aware of the pandemic.
The public, in general, also believed in the conspiracy theory and received misinformation that led many to deny the fact of the coronavirus. Hence, a list of news outlets has been busy fact-checking the information circulated on the internet, and the digital social platform ‘Kawal Covid-19’ is formed to supervise the government policy in handling the pandemic.
Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) reported a total of 35 doctors who have died during the pandemic as the government is criticised for not prioritising the front liners. The Jakarta government has been extending its social restriction for a few times as the Covid-19 has spread to more locations in the urban and satellite areas. In central business activities, Jakarta also set the new trend of virus transmission in offices as many companies started getting back to normal operation where many of the employees go to work at the office.
As the World Health Organization recently announced that the development of the vaccine still needs more time, the mitigation of the virus remains the same. There is good news on the trial of the vaccine but it doesn’t mean that the public has careless behaviour because the SARS-CoV-2 is dreadful to anybody who may get infected.
Indonesia Covid-19 Task Force led by Doni Mardono, the Chief of the National Disaster Management Agency (BNPB) keeps reminding people to be aware of the infectious disease. The new Covid-19 spokesman Wiku Adisasmito asked the empathy from the public to be caring for each other’s health and enforce the health protocol to one another. In a recent daily press briefing in early August, Adisasmito encouraged the public to promote self-mitigation rather than asking when the pandemic is over.
“Don't ask when the pandemic will end, but ask ourselves when you can be disciplined about wearing a mask, keep your distance and wash your hands. The easiest and cheapest way to avoid transmission is to change people's behaviour. Health protocols are key to avoiding transmission. We are sure Indonesia can do this together," Adisasmito said at BNPB headquarter.
Adisasmito also said that the end of the Covid-19 pandemic could not be predicted because there is no vaccine available that could ward off the virus. “The whole world has been trying hard so that we all get out of this plague. We need cooperation from all parties because by doing this health protocol, it’s the only way that could protect you and others,” Adisasmito added.
Previously, President Jokowi also appealed to his staff to intensify the campaign on using masks to the community within the next two weeks. He wants the public to really understand the importance of using masks to prevent Covid-19 transmission as the research confirmed the possibility of airborne transmission. Currently, the Covid-19 in Indonesia has spread to more than 30 provinces where Java, the most populated Island has recorded the highest cases.