Corona Virus Update #73 July 26, 2021
|Cumulative number of reported cases: 3,194,733 (as of July 26)
· Deaths: 84,766
Rupiah to US: 14,494
Overview- Signs of Surge Backing Off
The multi-week sharp surge in COVID cases due to the delta variant appears to have backed off giving hope that Indonesia has already reached a peak. However, low levels of testing during the July 19-20 Idul Adha holiday were a factor. Nevertheless, the seven-day moving average of new case detections peaked on July 15 in Jakarta and July 18 for the nation at large. However, reflecting the surges earlier this month, deaths are mounting and the critical need for therapeutics, vaccines, oxygen and other supplies continues. President Jokowi extended strict mobility and work-from-home restrictions until August 2 but made an allowance for certain small-scale business such as food stalls.
· East Java trended from 8,229 cases on 7/16 to 3,859 on 7/21.
· Central Java remains on a plateau above 4,00o daily cases.
· Papua and West Papua continue with high infection rates
· West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil reported to Reformasi Weekly (an important source of pandemic information) that the bed occupancy rate in his province is declining and patients are no longer treated at an emergency shelter. Similar reports from Jakarta indicated that at some hospitals orange triage tents have already been dismantled. However, in other places in Indonesia such as Bali new temporary hospitals were erected.
· Breakthrough infections among previously vaccinated healthcare workers called into question the effectiveness of Coronavac, made by the Chinese company Sinovac, although so far it appears reasonably effective at preventing death. Some healthcare workers are receiving Moderna booster shots. Additional volunteers have been recruited across Indonesia to assist in the case load as infected workers self-isolate. But concern is growing over the lack of qualified medical personnel.
· A group of volunteers called Action of Our Indonesia Movement, or GITA, set up an oxygen cylinder rental system in early July, aiming to help COVID-19 sufferers in the capital who could not afford access to hospitals or other treatment.
· Indonesia’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KADIN ) is building an isolation facility with oxygen for 500 COVID patients in Jakarta. The facility was initiated in a collaborative effort between KADIN Indonesia, GoTo Group, Samator Group, strategic partners, the government and the wider community to collectively face the challenges of the pandemic.
· SEA’s and Indonesia’s largest textile market and trading district, Tanah Abang, announced that as of July 26 all visitors and traders must show COVID vaccine cards indicating at least one jab. Tanah Abang is currently permitted to operate at 50%.
· The recent surge has affected the public’s confidence in the Jokowi government’s performance with a recent poll indicating a drop in approval ratings from 69% (December 2020) to 59%.
Travel-Indonesia Shuts Its Borders
On July 23 Indonesia closed its borders to travelers with the following exceptions:
· KITAS/KITAB (work and residency permit) holders
· Diplomat and official visa/residency permit holders
· Humanitarian/medical/scientific missions
· Transport/cabin crews on arriving vessels and planes
Coming quickly after a recent policy change mandating vaccine cards and a longer, 8 day quarantines, some commentators opined that the border closing was a response to criticism over the presence of Chinese workers at construction projects across the country.
The announced changes did not include any information on when they would be lifted. Revisions would likely occur as the current pandemic wave subsides further.
· Global Minimum Corporate Tax; After stating Indonesia’s agreement to a minimum corporate tax of 15% (an idea floated by US Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen and favored by most G20 members), Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati proposed a 5% exception for countries wanting to provide fiscal incentives to specific types of investors.
· Wage Subsidy: The government will provide a $34.50 wage subsidy per month for two months to help employers in areas with large-scale mobility restrictions. The money will top up wages of workers forced to work from home or part-time. The subsidy will only apply to workers who are on a monthly salary of less than Rp 3.5 million, are registered with the Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan) as of June 2021 and work in nonessential industries in areas with level 4 public activity restrictions (PPKM). Business associations had asked for money and looser social restrictions.
· Cargo Accumulation: A software issue within the Customs Department at Indonesia’s main port in Jakarta led to a backlog in cargos awaiting unloading. Until its fixed, authorities are accepting emailed documents and prioritizing medical and food shipments.
· VAT On Malls Reduced- With the extension of mobility restrictions until August 2 which offer mandated mall closures, retail outlets in malls (now closed) will still be exempt from VAT.
Foreign Affairs-Level 4 Travel Alert
US Embassy July 26th Travel Alert: “The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta continues to monitor the rapidly changing conditions due to COVID-19 in Indonesia and in other locations worldwide. Travel to and within Indonesia is highly discouraged at this time. The most current information regarding the impact of COVID-19 may be found at our COVID Information Page.” This is a Level 4 State Department Travel Alert, its highest. US Embassy July 26th Travel Alert: “The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta continues to monitor the rapidly changing conditions due to COVID-19 in Indonesia and in other locations worldwide. Travel to and within Indonesia is highly discouraged at this time. The most current information regarding the impact of COVID-19 may be found at our COVID Information Page.” This is a Level 4 State Department Travel Alert, its highest. Alert: COVID-19 Travel Update U.S. Embassy Jakarta | U.S. Embassy & Consulates in Indonesia (usembassy.gov)
(sources: International and Indonesia news media, Bali Update (from balidiscovery.com), Reformasi Weekly, US Embassy website)