Indonesia’s Jakarta Special Capital Region (DKI Jakarta) has recorded the highest one-day spike in new COVID-19 cases for the past one week amid the relaxed social restriction (PSBB transisi) which has been extended until 16 July.
The official data showed that on Wednesday (8 July), the number of new COVID-19 cases stood at 344. Then, on Saturday (11 July), the figure rose to 359 before jumping again to 404 on the following day (12 July).
Health facilities have actively carried out a massive swab test
The capital’s positivity rate based on the number of specimens tested has risen sharply to 10.5 per cent. Jakarta’s Governor Anies Baswedan explained that the figure was the highest since the implementation of transition social restriction. The condition has been exacerbated because 66 per cent of those exposed to the virus showed no symptoms at all.
“It means, if we from health community centres (Puskesmas) had not come to them, they would have realized that they had been infected or a virus carrier. Therefore, here is why we must be extra careful,” said Mr Anies.
Ms Widyastuti, Jakarta’s Health Office Chief, stated that the sharp rise in the number of new COVID-19 cases is due to the increase in daily test capacity. She affirmed that her side is ready to wait for patients to come to hospitals to have them checked, and carry out a massive active test in areas prone to the spread of the virus.
“We have created a map on red-zone sub-districts, regions with a high incident rate, meaning that we have pushed for active case finding,” she noted.
People are less disciplined in complying with a health protocol amid the relaxed social restriction
The relaxed physical distancing – aimed at reviving the economy – has contributed to the rise in the new number of COVID-19 cases as many people are seen gathering in crowds without wearing masks and ignoring the safe distancing measures.
“I went to a mall in Central Jakarta with my husband and family. It is good that when we enter the building, we have our temperature checked. However, in some restaurants, there are too many people sitting close to each other. Then, we avoid such a place,” Yaya, a housewife in Jakarta, told TOC.
Another resident shared a similar experience, as he told TOC, “I went to Bulungan in South Jakarta on Saturday night and people gathered in the crowd as if nothing happens.”
An epidemiologist at the University of Indonesia, Pandu Riono, told Kompas that low-level compliance with a health protocol has triggered the spike in the recent figures of confirmed COVID-19 cases.
“People do not want to implement the health protocol or fewer people stick to it,” said Mr Pandu, adding that the regional government’s focus should be on people’s behaviour.
The health protocol refers to washing hands with soaps, maintaining physical distancing, and wearing masks when outside, or known as 3M.
The governor will consider re-imposing social restriction
Such a situation in Jakarta raises a question of whether the governor will impose a stricter large-scale social restriction (PSBB) to control the spread of the coronavirus.
Mr Anies asserted that he would take “an emergency brake” measure if the number of new COVID-19 infections continue to rise, meaning that it is very likely that a stricter social restriction will be reinforced again.
“I warn everyone, do not let such a situation continue, forcing us to pull an emergency brake,” said the governor in a national broadcast on Sunday (12 July).