Report Contents

July 1, 2021

Asia

INDONESIA: Widodo announces wider restrictions over half the country

BY Bob Herrera-Lim

Share on twitter
Share on whatsapp
Share on facebook
Share on linkedin
Share on email
Share on reddit

Listen to our reports with a personalized podcasts through your Amazon Alexa or Apple devices audio translated into several languages

( 4 mins)
  • Measures will limit most commercial and social activities on Java and Bali until 20 July, with the goal of cutting in half the current new case rate of roughly 20,000 per day.
  • Government is targeting raising the daily vaccination rate from roughly 0.25% of the population to 0.8% by the end of August.
  • The current outbreak is raising the public clamor for vaccinations, with reports of fatalities among fully vaccinated healthcare workers not yet markedly dampening current demand.

Indonesian president Joko Widodo today (1 July) announced that tighter and more widespread business and movement restrictions, called Emergency PPKM, will be imposed on the islands of Java and Bali from 3 July – 20 July to prevent the current Covid-19 outbreak from worsening. There continues to be skepticism within the healthcare community whether the new measures are sufficient, but the government is unwilling to trigger a deeper economic slowdown. Java contributes about 60% of Indonesian GDP and has 55% of the country’s population. Bali has a smaller share of both population and output but has also been seeing a marked increase in daily cases.

The current outbreak, Indonesia’s second major one and the worst since the start of the pandemic, is being blamed on the combination of local travel during the mid-May Idul Fitri holidays and the Delta variant. The government’s goal is to cut by half the current new daily case rate of 20,000.

The new measures require businesses to adopt work from home, with only essential and critical sectors allowed to let employees into their offices; the closure of most commercial establishments, including malls (other than groceries, markets and pharmacies); a prohibition on indoor and outdoor dining; and only online learning to be allowed. Places of worship, parks and other social areas are to be closed. Long-distance travel by air, bus or train will require testing or vaccination, while commuter transportation will be restricted to 70% capacity. The government plan to reopen Bali to foreign tourists this July has been postponed, with a September timetable now the earliest possible.

Until a week ago, the administration had insisted that micro PPKM, which focuses on community level restrictions, would be sufficient. However, the clamor from health experts for the government to act more forcefully has been rising the past two weeks with daily new case records being broken almost every day and reports of hospitals in the greater Jakarta area nearing or exceeding capacity. That Indonesia may replicate India’s disastrous experience earlier in the spring has become a palpable concern both politically and publicly, driven by reports and pictures of patients having to stay in corridors or triage parking-lot facilities, as well as stories of hospitals scrambling for oxygen supplies. All these combined likely made it politically untenable for Widodo to continue insisting on micro PPKM.

Slightly more optimism on the vaccination front

On the other hand, Indonesia’s vaccination rate has more than doubled, from roughly 0.13% of the population per day in early June to 0.25% this week. About 5% of the country’s population are fully vaccinated, with another 11% having received one dose. The improved vaccination rate of the past few weeks is being driven not only by greater demand — more people are lining up to be vaccinated due to the intensified outbreak — but by recent improvements in vaccine supplies. So far, the widely publicized infections of health care workers who had been fully vaccinated with Sinovac, including 10 doctors who died, do not seem as yet to have had a measurable effect on either public or private vaccination efforts. However, the debate locally is whether booster shots will be needed and how quickly they should be introduced.

Widodo says his government’s goal is to raise the daily vaccination rate to roughly 0.4% of the population by the end of July and 0.8% in August. The country is currently relying on Sinovac for its vaccine raw materials, which is then is filled and finished by state vaccine maker PT Biofarma. Relatively uneven supply rates have constrained the vaccination through the first half of the year, but the county’s health minister says that they have received enough raw materials to produce an additional 85mn doses by early August. An estimated 5mn to 10mn doses of Pfizer’s vaccine is also expected to arrive monthly next month, out of a total 50mn order, to supplement the public vaccination supplies. A private sector initiative using the Sinopharm vaccine also started in May, but accounts for a small fraction of the total vaccination rate.