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Covid 19 Delta outbreak: Indonesia bans Christmas and New Years holidays to stop outbreak




Women wearing face masks as a precaution against the coronavirus outbreak walk through a shopping mall in Tangerang, Indonesia. Photo / Tatan Syuflana, AP

In order to curb a potential explosion of Covid-19 cases during the holiday season, the Indonesian government has banned civil servants and workers in public and private companies from taking time off between December 24 and January 2.

Previously, authorities canceled December 24, the collective day off before Christmas, and shortened the Christmas holidays, which meant that only Christmas Day would count as a public holiday.

“We hope that we can handle Christmas and New Years well, because almost all epidemiologists fear that what triggers a third wave may be during Christmas and New Years,” President Joko Widodo said on October 28, when canceled the country’s Christmas Eve. holiday.

The new severe restrictions imposed by Interior Minister Tito Karnavian also announced that restrictions will also be placed on school activities, as well as the restriction of artistic, cultural and sporting activities.

Public places will also be closed from December 31, 2021 to January 1, 2020, in order to prevent the spread of the virus.

Although Indonesia’s population is 87% Islamic, Christmas is still widely celebrated by the 10% of Indonesians who identify as Christians (around 10 million people).

According to the Strait Times, 4.2 million public servants, two million workers in state-owned enterprises and many workers in the private sector will be affected, with workers being asked to postpone their annual leave.

The official order prohibiting workers from taking time off has sparked complaints from Indonesia’s Christian minority population, but the country’s fear of large epidemics resulting from long vacations is potentially justified.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the Jakarta State Palace.  Photo / Indonesian Presidential Palace via AP
Indonesian President Joko Widodo at the Jakarta State Palace. Photo / Indonesian Presidential Palace via AP

The second deadly wave of cases in Indonesia came just two weeks after Hari Raya Aidilfitri’s Islamic celebrations, despite government warnings for people to limit their movement.

“I understand that we all missed our families and loved ones at those times, especially the next Lebaran,” President Widodo said at the time.

“But let’s prioritize our common safety by not going back to our hometowns. Let’s pass Ramadan with an effort to break the chain of the pandemic for the safety of all our families and loved ones, ourselves and all. the society.”

Despite this, the mass movement helped the highly transmissible Delta variant take hold in communities.

First detected in the small regency of Kudus on Indonesia’s largest island of Java, cases rose from 137 on May 14 to over 1,000 just 17 days later. By June 24, that number had again increased exponentially to 12,985.

A woman receives an injection of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination at the University of North Sumatra in Medan, North Sumatra.  Photo / Binsar Bakkara, AP
A woman receives an injection of the Sinovac Covid-19 vaccine during a mass vaccination at the University of North Sumatra in Medan, North Sumatra. Photo / Binsar Bakkara, AP

The infections also quickly spread to other parts of Indonesia, and in July the country was declared the epicenter of the Covid-19 pandemic in Asia.

After experiencing a devastating epidemic in July and August, Indonesian authorities are no doubt keen to avoid a similar situation. Between June and August, an estimated 82,000 Indonesians died from Covid, with the current Covid death toll being 144,000.

At the time, Nikkei Asia reported that the country’s per capita death toll exceeded that of India, while daily infections peaked at a pandemic 56,757 new cases on July 15.

However, experts believed the number was likely higher. Speaking to Aljazeera, Gusti Ngurah Mahardika, Udayana University professor and senior virologist, said it was because the government was using rapid antigen testing, instead of the pfanonolymerase chain reaction or PCR tests which are more reliable and superior when detecting Covid.

More than two months later, Indonesia is hoping for a slight return to normal, with Bali reopening to tourists and the country’s seven-day case average dropping to 10.

However, the memory of the deadly Covid crisis of nations undoubtedly lingers.

“The central government is traumatized by what happened in Indonesia, so it is now doing things very carefully,” said Septian Hartono, a medical scientist and data coordinator who spoke with Aljazeera in September.

“But if they lift all the restrictions, the rate will go up again.”




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