Indonesia could finally have turned a corner in the face of COVID-19

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Indonesia has suffered one of the worst COVID-19 epidemics in Asia, and indeed the world. In early August, a second wave of COVID-19 that hit the archipelago was estimated at around fifty thousand deaths in a few weeks, with the total number of infections numbering in the millions. Weeks earlier, Indonesia had been declared one of the world’s epicenters for the virus, and the country was struggling to find enough oxygen, hospital beds and other necessities for COVID patients. These numbers may in fact be underestimated, as Indonesia is a physically large country and it can be difficult to amass statistics on some of the more remote parts of the archipelago.

The reasons why Indonesia has been hit so hard are complex. Certainly, at the start of the pandemic, President Joko Widodo, or Jokowi, and other senior leaders made major mistakes. Some have promoted untested natural remedies for the new coronavirus, while Jokowi has at times been hesitant to take tough action against the virus. Jokowi himself has been touting the herbs to fight COVID-19, and in 2020 took no clear action during Eid, as people migrated across the country and presumably spread the new coronavirus.

Safer:

South East Asia

Indonesia

COVID-19[female

More recently, while Jokowi has taken more stringent and scientifically substantiated action, the surge of new cases is due to some factors under Indonesia’s control and others that are not. In a huge country with densely populated central islands and a large informal sector, it is understandably difficult to contain the virus. Delta is facilitating transmission and countries in the region like Myanmar, which has virtually no capacity to contain COVID-19, could spread the virus throughout Southeast Asia. Unlike wealthier countries in the region such as Singapore, Indonesia has not had widespread early access to vaccines and currently has only 18.5% of its eligible population fully vaccinated.

Indeed, the more contagious Delta variant of COVID-19, combined with the lack of high vaccination rates in most countries in Southeast Asia, has led to new epidemics almost everywhere in the region. Even countries that were touted as major success stories in 2020, like Vietnam and Thailand, which had few or no cases transmitted nationally last year and have been hailed by public health specialists , are now recording an average of around nine thousand or ten thousand new cases per day.

And yet Indonesia now appears to have turned a corner. It’s on average just under two thousand new cases of COVID-19 per day, and its death rate is also falling. Some of that decline may simply be happening because the virus has already cut such a large swath, but Indonesia is also taking more proactive steps. He started amassing more vaccines from China, as well as donations from New Zealand and other countries, and key officials began to fight vaccine reluctance more aggressively. The country has also strengthened its testing and tracing capacities.

Indonesia’s guarantees are still not great: the country ranks 49e out of 53 countries studied in Bloomberg’s Covid resilience ranking, although this study does not include countries poorer than Indonesia, which would likely fall much lower on the list.

Safer:

South East Asia

Indonesia

COVID-19[female


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