Indonesia has become a new global virus epicentre after exceeding Brazil and India in terms of daily Covid-19 case and death counts earlier this month.
Indonesia on Sunday recorded 45,416 new cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) to overtake Brazil, India and the US in terms of fresh infections, according to Worldometer data. There were 38,091 Covid-19 cases logged in Brazil, 39,742 in India and 37,245 in the United States during the same period. However, in terms of the total number of infections and deaths, Indonesia is still far behind the top countries with 3,166,505 cases and 83,279 fatalities.
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On Sunday, President Joko Widodo loosened Covid-19 curbs for another week until August 2 even as coronavirus disease cases remained high following near month-long restrictions. Widodo’s orders came despite experts warnings that loosening restrictions could bring about another wave of the pandemic in the country.
According to the new orders, traditional markets selling staple foods will open as normal and shops selling non-food items and other small merchants have been allowed to operate at half capacity with shorter hours. Food stalls and restaurants can resume dine-ins in outdoor areas but under very strict protocols.
Luhut Panjaitan, in charge of coordinating the pandemic response in the regions, said stage-four restrictions with the tightest measures, are in place in 95 cities and regencies across Java and Bali. Malls and department stores can operate at 25 per cent capacity until 5pm in 33 cities and regencies that fall under stage-three restrictions.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged Indonesia to impose tighter Covid-19 curbs and experts have said that lifting restrictions will result in more cases and deaths in the country.
“Restrictions must be in place for a minimum of four weeks and (the government) needs to increase testing, tracing and treatment to have maximum results,” Dicky Budiman, an Indonesia epidemiologist at Australia’s Griffith University, told AFP before Sunday’s announcement. “Otherwise, it’s just the same as having no restrictions,” he said.