The largest epicentre of the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia is now in East Java, as the residents’ lack of discipline in adhering to social distancing rules is to be blamed for the rise of infections according to experts.
The total infections in East Java on Jun 26th has surpassed the number of cases in Jakarta, the Indonesian capital. As of yesterday, over 12,000 cases were recorded in the province, while Jakarta reported a tally of 11,637 cases. The number of deaths in East Java stood at 926 on Wednesday, compared to Jakarta which saw 632 deaths.
The province first saw a significant rise in the number of infections during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan in May, according to East Java’s Airlangga University public health expert, Mr Windhu Purnomo.
In an annual tradition known as “mudik”, Indonesian Muslims usually travel back to their hometowns and villages ahead of the Idul Fitri holiday which marks the end of the fasting month.
“This caused the disease to spread from areas like Jakarta and Bali, particularly as businesses there had to close and many people were laid off,” Mr Purnomo told Singaporean media house, CNA.
A significant increase of infections were recorded in East Java during mid-May, according to data from the provincial government. The number of daily infections in the province spiked to 473 on May 23rd which was just days before Idul Fitri, and since then the province has recorded between 160 to 400 infections on a daily basis.
Residents of East Java had been disobeying health protocols, according to Mr Purnomo. “You can see it on the streets, in markets and public spaces. People are not wearing masks and not practising social distancing. Meanwhile, the government is only reprimanding the violators instead of a strict sanction,” he said.
“I am not surprised that East Java surpassed Jakarta’s number of infections and became a new epicentre in the country.” Also, the East Java government had not taken action on people who ignored health protocols and the government’s social restrictions order, according to Dr Sutrisno, who is the East Java chapter chairman of the Indonesian Doctor’s Association.
“The condition is putting a strain in the province’s healthcare system. COVID-19 referral hospitals are becoming overcrowded. New patients are coming non-stop and medical workers are working non-stop too,” he told CNA.
Dr Sutrisno, who has only one name like many Indonesians, added that 76 doctors in East Java had contracted COVID-19 so far, and eight of them have died from the virus. He also reported that East Java is also experiencing a shortage of isolation wards, particularly in capital Surabaya, which itself makes up half of the total infections in the province.
This ward shortage, he added, contributes to the province’s high death toll and slow recovery rate of just 32 per cent which is almost 10 percent lower than the national average rate of 43.2 per cent. Indonesia has become the worst hit country in South East Asia with more than 57,000 COVID-19 cases as of Wednesday, July 1st. East Java’s COVID-19 mitigation chief Dr Joni Wahyuhadi acknowledged poor discipline among the people in adhering to health protocols as the main cause of the quick spread of the virus.
“That’s why we have provided 2.5 million masks for free and regularly promote healthy lifestyles through various platforms as well as getting the help of community leaders,” he told CNA.
However, he did not find it surprising that East Java has more cases than Jakarta, because it has a population of 38 million compared to 9.6 million people in the capital, Jakarta.
“We have also been very aggressive in our contact tracing. We have also been conducting mass testing to screen the population and isolate those who have been infected so that they don’t infect others,” he told CNA.
Considering the size of its population, the central government feels that East Java has not carried out enough testing. The province has a test rate of only 1,428 per one million population, which is considerably lower than Jakarta’s 21,406 tests per one million population and Bali’s 7,151 tests per one million population.
“This means that East Java still needs to conduct more massive testing,” said Indonesia’s Ministry of Health director-general for infectious disease, Dr Achmad Yurianto, on Monday. Dr Wahyuhadi said there are plans to increase the current 17 testing labs to 27 labs to increase the province’s testing capacities.
“We are increasing the number of labs capable of performing (COVID-19) tests as well as increasing the number of hospital beds,” he said. Health authorities will convert dormitories to house asymptomatic COVID-19 patients, he said.
“This way, only people with severe symptoms or comorbidity are treated at hospitals.” “We are optimistic that we can suppress the number of infections and have the pandemic under control.”
2nd July 19:20
This article brought to you by Legacy Times 传城时代
Our partner sites: