COVID case detections continue to decline from their mid-July peak; falling 13% nationwide week-on-week but the pattern is not uniform and, in some regions, they have plateaued but at a higher level:
· Cases are hovering around 2,000 a day in Jakarta since August.
· Detections are trending higher in South Sulawesi, North Sumatra, Aceh, and Riau
· Plateauing is recorded in Bali, West Nusa Tenggara, West Sumatra, South Sumatra, Lampung, South Kalimantan, East Kalimantan and West Papua
· Since July 15, new case detections in Jakarta have dropped 87%.
· Indonesia recorded 2,048 coronavirus-related deaths on August 8, the second time that the daily death toll has topped the 2,000 mark since the pandemic began.
· Vaccinations rose close to the government’s original goal of 1 million per day, reaching 942,000 jabs on August 12, a 30% increase from the week before. (In August President Jokowi reset the goal to 2 million.)
· A national phone app is being rolled out that allows users to scan a QR code as a proof of vaccination when entering malls, restaurants, and entertainment or tourist districts.
· Malls are now allowed to open at 25%, creating confusion and long lines at entry points.
NYC Donation of COVID Surplus Supplies
On July 26, 2021 New York City and Indonesia’s Ministry of State-Owned Enterprises signed an agreement whereby Indonesia has been donated over 250 tons of surplus COVID related medical materials: 176 ventilators and accessories, 2 million N95 masks, 16 million hospital isolation gowns, 2 million specimen collection kits, 1.4 million swabs and other material. Using a Citilink (subsidiary of state airline Garuda) aircraft, the ventilators have already been transferred. AICC is collaborating with US Chamber, US-ASEAN Business Council and a group of US CEO’s (under the Global Taskforce for Pandemic Response) to find a way to ship the balance.
Fire and the Pandemic
President Jokowi compared the COVID-19 pandemic to fire in his “State of the Union Address” to the nation: “Crises, recessions, and pandemics are like fire, so they should be avoided if possible, though if they recur, then several things can be learnt. Fire does burn, but it illuminates at the same time. If it is controlled, it can inspire and motivate. Fire is painful, but at the same time, it is also strengthening,” Jokowi made the remarks remarked during his state address at the annual session of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) and Joint Session of the House of Representatives (DPR) and the Regional Representatives Council (DPD) at the Parliamentary Complex, here on Monday.
Travel- Restrictions Extended to August 23
The harder travel and work-from-home restrictions have been extended to August 16 in Jakarta and August 23 in other regions. Passengers on airlines flying between Java and Bali need only show proof of antigen test, not a PCR test. But some regional governments are requiring proof of vaccination to visit certain streets (Jalan Malioboro in Yogyakarta) or areas (Makassar’s airport).
Borders remained closed to foreign business and tourist travel. Only foreign nationals who are diplomats, holders of temporary or permanent resident cards, cabin crews and those engaged in medical and humanitarian purposes can currently enter Indonesia. US State Department lists Indonesia as Level 4, Do Not Travel.
Indonesia Travel Restriction Details can be found here.
Visit Indonesian Immigration (https://www.imigrasi.go.id) and the Indonesian Embassy (https://kemlu.go.id/washington/en) for updated visa and entry requirements as regulations may change frequently
· Alarming Corporate Debt Levels: Finance Minister, Sri Mulyani, announced that the Financial Stability Committee and its constituent members (Finance Ministry, Bank Indonesia, Savings Guarantee Agency, and Financial Services Authority) are monitoring high debt levels at the nation’s banks and are considering an extension for credit restructuring all the way until 2023.
· Coal Conundrum: President Jokowi emphasized Indonesia’s shift to renewable energy in his State of the Union speech on August 16 but to get there the nation must figure out what to do about coal. Indonesia is both a large coal producer, consumer, and exporter and its stated policy since the Presidency of Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (2004-2014) is to reduce greenhouse gases and move away from the mineral as an energy source. This causes a huge tension: many of nation’s power plants use coal and producers are required to sell locally before exporting. Current international coal prices are 40% higher. The state-owned energy monopoly PLN is only receiving 50% of the domestic obligation. Without the necessary coal, the nation stares at future black and brownouts. So, this week the government imposed an export ban on several companies, included Arutmin, a Bakrie company subsidiary and one of the nation’s largest producers. On the other hand, Indonesian producers don’t want to leave money on the table and they complain about the slow rates of payment by PLN. They also know it’s hard for the government to enforce a ban. Something will have to give.
Indonesia and Afghanistan
In January 2018, Jokowi visited Kabul at the invitation of President Ashraf Ghani. Jokowi also went to Pakistan to meet then-Pakistani president Mamnoon Hussain to propose a trilateral ulema conference in Bogor, West Java. The conference eventually took place in May that year, with the agenda including promotion of peace and friendship under Islam, defiance of violent extremism, as well as the ulema’s and the state’s peacebuilding role. The Taliban, however, boycotted it, meaning the conference was fruitless. (excerpt from Jakarta Post, 8/16/21)
(sources: International and Indonesia news media, Bali Update (from balidiscovery.com), Reformasi Weekly, US Embassy website)