JAKARTA, July 25 (Reuters) – Indonesia extended its COVID-19 restrictions by a week to August 2 in an attempt to curb infections, after the government announced it would add more care units intensive in a context of increasing deaths.
Indonesia has become the epicenter of COVID-19 in Asia with hospitals inundated, especially on the densely populated island of Java and Bali, where oxygen supplies are dwindling. Read more
“I would like to thank all Indonesians for their understanding and support for the curbs which have been effective for 23 days,” said President Joko Widodo, known as Jokowi, adding that COVID infections and bed occupancy of hospitals had decreased, without specifying by how much.
Significantly more flexible than previous restrictions, Jokowi said the government will gradually adjust some restrictions, while allowing traditional markets and restaurants with outdoor spaces to open, with certain limitations, such as giving customers 20 minutes to finish their meals. .
Some businesses, from trade shows to vehicle repair shops, are now allowed to open.
Senior Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, who oversees the COVID response in Java and Bali, said the restrictions will apply in 140 regions of Indonesia, including the capital Jakarta.
Fewer restrictions would be imposed in areas deemed safer, including allowing shopping centers to reopen at 25% capacity and factories to operate, with limitations, Luhut said.
Indonesia will allow free value-added tax for tenants of shopping centers, which have been hit hard by sidewalks, for their rent from June to August, Chief Economy Minister Airlangga Hartarto said.
Bank Mandiri economist Faisal Rachman said the extension was expected. If restrictions were to remain through August, annual economic growth could be 3.69%, slightly lower than the government’s forecast of 3.7% to 4.5%
Last week, Indonesia reported record deaths on four separate days, the latest of which was 1,566 deaths on Friday, bringing the cumulative death toll to more than 83,000.
The total number of infections has climbed to more than 3.1 million, although health experts say deaths and the number of cases have been underestimated.
“In principle, it is a good intention of the government to extend the restrictions. But the same good intention could be applied to counting the actual number of infections, ”said Tri Yunis Miko Wahyono, epidemiologist at the University of Indonesia.
The average number of COVID-19 deaths reported each day in Indonesia has increased for 10 consecutive days, according to a Reuters tracker.
Luhut said on Saturday that full hospitals and patients who died in self-isolation had led to an increase in the death toll, adding that intensive care units would be added in areas that have reported the highest number of deaths.
Less than 7% of Indonesia’s population of 270 million has been fully vaccinated, with the largest country in Southeast Asia relying mainly on injections produced by Chinese company Sinovac Biotech (SVA.O).
Reporting by Stanley Widianto and Tabita Diela; Additional reporting by Bernadette Christina; Editing by Edwina Gibbs and Nick Macfie
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