The Indonesian Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, held a brief press conference on Monday 18th July at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta to update the nation on the latest Covid-19 figures.
Minister Hartarto reported that outside of Java and Bali cases were low and in decline. He explained that there remain active cases being reported daily in North Sumatra, South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, South Sumatra, South Sulawesi, and Central Kalimantan. Despite the new caseloads in these areas the overall caseloads continue to decrease.
He stated clearly that ‘for cases outside of Java and Bali, they are low and declining’. He elaborated that the highest increases in caseloads are being seen in Java and in Bali. Cases in Bali and Java account for 95% of all cases nationwide and that community transmission has reached eight cases per 100,000 people at a national level.
With this in mind Minister Hartarto said ‘So, according to the levels [established by] the World Health Organization, we are still at Level 1. The standard is 20 per 100 thousand’.
Bali and the rest of Indonesia will remain on Level 1 until the review at the end of July. This level stipulates people must wear masks in indoor and crowded outdoor public environments.
Speaking later in the day, from Bali’s provincial government offices in Denpasar, the Chairman of the Bali Province Covid-19 Task Force, Dewa Made Indra, explained the latest figures for the island in more detail. He confirmed that cases have increased in the last week with a surge of 105 new cases on Sunday 17th July alone. Compared to rates of new positive cases in the weeks before, this is a rapid rise.
Indra told reporters ‘This figure is mostly contributed by foreign travel agents [tourists] and it was found when they carried out a PCR test at I Gusti Ngurah Rai Airport [upon arrival in] Bali’. Although fully vaccinated international travelers do not need a PCR test to arrive in Bali, reportedly some people are being asked to take PCR tests on arrival based on temperature screenings as they pass through the airport.
When asked why the surge in cases was being seen in Bali and not other areas of Indonesia, aside from Java, Indra responded that this was part of the risk of reopening and being reliant on tourism for Bali’s economic recovery. He said ‘There are many events [cases] in Bali because we are pushing for economic recovery’. He stated how the movement of both international and domestic tourists is a contributing factor.
Indra shared his insights with the media about how his teams will be dealing with the new cases while balancing the need to continue support for the tourism sector.
He said ‘”On the one hand, indeed we need tourism to continue to move up but on the other hand there will definitely be risks…The cases [we have] found are handled by [instructing] isolation and after the [isolation period] they go straight home’ or continue with their visit as planned’
During the press conference, Indra also updated the media about Bali’s vaccination program. The island’s Covid-19 Task Force last week began a renewed effort to get as many people as possible to take their booster vaccine.
Efforts are also being made across Bali to ensure that people living in rural areas with limited access to healthcare are receiving their first and second vaccinations. He explained ‘In the beginning, the booster [rollout] was fast, but now it has slowed down. It’s not that the vaccinator team has decreased, it’s not that the vaccination movement has decreased, but the people’s enthusiasm is a bit low’.
Bali Airport has opened a booster vaccination clinic within the domestic terminal to help local travelers get up to date with their Covid-19 vaccinations. As of the 17th of July, it became mandatory for Indonesian citizens to have their booster vaccine in order to travel by air, internationally or domestically.
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