The World Health Organization on Thursday urged Indonesia to implement a stricter and broader blockade to fight infections and increased deaths from COVID-19, just days after the country’s president noted easing restrictions.
Indonesia has become one of the epicenters of the global pandemic recently, with COVID-19 positive cases jumping fivefold in the last five weeks. This week, daily deaths hit record levels above 1,300, among the highest taxes in the world.
In its latest situation report, the WHO said strict enforcement of public health and social restrictions were essential and called for additional “urgent action” to address the sharp rise in infections in 13 of Indonesia’s 34 provinces.
“Indonesia is currently facing a very high level of transmission and is indicative of the greater importance of implementing strict public and social health measures, especially movement restrictions, across the country,” she said.
Under Indonesia’s partial blockade, social restrictions such as work from home and closed centers are limited to the islands of Java and Bali and small pockets in other parts of the country. Large sectors of the economy that are considered critical or essential are excluded from most, or some, of the blocking measures.
On Tuesday, President Joko Widodo noted a easing of restrictions from next week, citing official data showing a drop in infections in recent days, which epidemiologists say is driven by a drop in testing from already low levels. .
Indonesia’s daily positivity rate, the percentage of people tested who are infected, has averaged 30 percent over the past week even when cache numbers have dropped. A level above 20 percent means “very high” transmissibility, the WHO said.
All but one of Indonesia’s provinces have a positivity rate of over 20 percent, with Aceh, with the neighborhood of 19 percent, the WHO said.
The top minister in charge of the partial blockade, Luhut Pandjaitan, said easing restrictions could occur in areas where transmission rates fell, hospital capacity increased and the “sociological situation” of residents demanded it.
Indonesia, Myanmar and Malaysia have shown sharp increases since the end of June and their seven-day averages reached 4.37, 4.29 and 4.14 per million, respectively, on Wednesday.
Cambodia and Thailand have also seen strong increases in both coronavirus cases and deaths, but so far have kept the seven-day rate per million people at 1.55 and 1.38 lower, respectively.
A variety of factors have contributed to recent growth in several countries in Southeast Asia, including people who are tired of the pandemic and allow precautions to slip, low vaccination rates and the emergence of the delta variant of the virus, which was first discovered first in India, said Abhishek Rimal, Asia-Pacific emergency health coordinator for the Red Cross, which is based in Malaysia.
“With the measures countries are taking, if people follow the basics of hand washing, wearing masks, keeping their distance and getting vaccinated, we will see a drop in cases in the next two weeks from now,” he said.
So far, however, Malaysia’s national blockade measures have not reduced the daily rate of infections. The country with about 32 million people saw daily cases rise above 10,000 on July 13 for the first time and they have stayed at that level ever since. Vaccination rates remain low but rising, with nearly 15 percent of the population now fully inoculated and the government hoping to have a majority vaccinated by the end of the year.
What is happening in Tokyo
Tokyo reached another six-month high in the new COVID-19 cases on Thursday, a day before the start of the Olympics, as concerns mount for a worsening of infections during the Games. On Thursday 1,979 new cases are the highest since 2,044 were registered on January 15th.
Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga, who is set to host the Olympics, placed Tokyo under a state of emergency on July 12, but daily cases have risen sharply since then. Emergency measures, which mainly include banning alcohol sales and shorter hours for restaurants and bars, will last until August 22, after the Olympic Games end on August 8.
Japan has reported about 853,000 cases and 15,100 deaths since the pandemic began, most of them this year. Still, the number of cases and deaths as part of the population is much lower than in many other countries.
The Olympics, delayed by a year from the pandemic, begin on Friday. Spectators are banned from all locations in the Tokyo area, with limited audiences allowed in some suburban locations.
Meanwhile, the West African country of Guinea, which had previously announced it would withdraw from the Olympics due to coronavirus concerns, has reversed its decision and will now send five athletes to Tokyo. Sports Minister Sanoussy Bantama Sow said Guinea had received “assurances from health authorities” that the athletes would be protected.
What is happening around the world
As of Thursday, more than 192.1 million cases of COVID-19 had been reported worldwide, according to Johns Hopkins University. The number of reported deaths was more than 4.1 million.
Africa, battling a third severe wave of COVID-19 infections, will begin receiving the first batch of 400 million doses of vaccine from Johnson & Johnson next week, the African Union special envoy to COVID said Thursday. 19. Only about 60 million doses have been administered among a total population of 1.3 billion so far on the continent of 55 nations.
Burkina Faso, Niger and Cameroon received life-saving vaccines to protect their most vulnerable.
No one is safe until everyone is safe! pic.twitter.com/5OxUX7u1v8
IN Americas, YouTubesaysit has removed videos from Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s channel for spreading misinformation about the coronavirus outbreak. The former far-right captain, who has overseen the world’s second deadliest outbreak, regularly points to his doubts about the severity of the virus, the folly of staying home masses and the wonders of untested drugs like hydroxychloroquine in his videos.
IN Asia, South Korea is reporting 1,842 newly confirmed coronavirus cases for the past 24 hours setting a new pandemic record of one day for the second day in a row. The country has seen an increase in infections in recent weeks amid a slow vaccination campaign, poor public vigilance and the spread of a more contagious delta variant.
IN Europe, Italy will soon require people to have reflective status of their health status to access gyms, museums, cinemas, restaurants and other venues. To be eligible for a permit, individuals must prove they have received at least one vaccine dose in the last nine months, recovered from COVID-19 in the last six months, or tested negative in the previous 48 hours.
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