All signs indicate that COVID-19 is currently retreating in Indonesia. An internationally recognized index based on data collected at Johns Hopkins has Indonesia’s effective rate of transmission at .93. (An index of 1=steady state, <1=retreating, >1=advancing. By comparison, the US is at 1.09. The index is based on epidemiological theory.
Cases nationally continue to go down. The 7-day moving average of new case detections fell to 2,931 on September 22, the lowest level since September 2, 2020. In Jakarta daily detections fell even further, to 189, the lowest level since July 2020.
Meanwhile there is good news on vaccinations:
· Daily vaccination rates are now averaging 1.5 million, an increase from last week.
· 23% of Indonesians are fully vaccinated, 41.5% have one shot. The Health Minister believes the rate can improve to 70% by November.
· Worldwide vaccine shipments continue to arrive.
During his virtual speech at the UNGA, President Joko Widodo discussed “politicization and discrimination of COVID-19 vaccines”. Jokowi, as well as Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, emphasized “vaccine security” and the need for local manufacturing of vaccines, therapeutics, and devices. Policy to Watch: Indonesia’s impulse, given similar past imperatives, is to ban imports or require local licenses to sell products.
Authorities remain vigilant about future “waves”. The Jakarta provincial government predicted a third wave of COVID-19 hitting the capital in December 2021 based on the city’s experience in dealing with the first and second waves. “The early detection system [of COVID-19 infection] has been activated and not dropped yet until now,” said Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan.
Statements continue to lean to the positive that Indonesia will begin opening its borders to foreign travelers as early as October. Bintan and Batam islands—located a short distance from Singapore– believe their region will one of the first to allow in foreigners.
Currently, foreign diplomats as well as Indonesian passport holders must wait for 2-5 hours upon arrival to receive a PCR test. If results are positive, travelers are automatically placed to one of 4 locations for a long quarantine. Rumor has it that some foreign embassies, including the US, have temporarily suspended incoming diplomatic traveler, arguing that the rule violates diplomatic agreements.
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
· BI/MOF Watching China’s Evergrande: Indonesia’s economic chiefs are nervously watching for fallout from the $340 billion default of China’s Evergrande Real Estate Group. Bank Indonesia Governor Perry Warjiyo said on Tuesday that the Evergrande crisis could affect Indonesia’s capital market, but he added that it had gradually subsided. He said Indonesia’s economy remained the dominant factor in the market. “We assume that the Indonesian market reflects Indonesia’s fundamental conditions more than the technical conditions or global financial conditions,” Perry told reporters during an online press conference. Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said Evergrande had become a source of risk to China’s financial sector stability. A default, she added, would impact more than just China’s domestic economy, but also the world. “So, we have to be wary of Evergrande’s default phenomenon,” Sri Mulyani said during an online press conference on Thursday.
· Further Curbs to Nickel Exports: The Investment Ministry is mulling over plans to ban or restrict the export of processed nickel products with less than 70 percent nickel content. Speaking at a virtual conference on Sept. 17, Investment Minister Bahlil Lahadalia said the government was planning to ban exports of processed products containing 30 to 40 percent nickel to preserve Indonesia’s nickel reserves and develop the downstream mining industry. Local players, such as the Indonesian Nickel Mining Association, responded that the ban is premature. The association’s Meidy Katrin Lengkey said: “The government must ensure the domestic market is ready to absorb the products.”
· ADB Revises Growth Forecast: The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has slashed its economic growth outlook for Indonesia following the mid-year resurgence in COVID-19 cases and deaths. For this year, the ADB now expects Indonesia’s economy to grow by 3.5 percent, which is 1 percentage point less than forecast in April. For next year, the development bank has reduced its forecast by 0.2 percentage points to 4.8 percent, signifying a delay in getting back to the typical pre-pandemic growth rate of around 5%.
US response in Indonesia Since the onset of the pandemic, the U.S. Government has committed more than $77 million to support Indonesia’s COVID-19 response. The United States works closely with Indonesia to accelerate COVID-19 case detection and tracking, improve laboratories, disease surveillance, and rapid-response capacity, and ensure that more people know what to do to protect themselves and each other. Since March 2020, our support has reached 165 million people in Indonesia— 60 percent of the country’s population. The United States has helped approximately 43,000 frontline healthcare workers and strengthened more than 1,300 hospitals and clinics around the country. (US Embassy website) (Editor’s Note: under COVAX the US has contributed over 12 million Pfizer and Moderna doses to Indonesia.)
(sources: International and Indonesia news media, Bali Update (from balidiscovery.com), Reformasi Weekly, US Embassy website)