By Renester P. Suralta
INDONESIA has become the new epicenter of the pandemic in Asia, surpassing India and Brazil with the world’s highest count of new infections.
The country with 270 million population famous for its diverse and multicultural islands recorded more than 57,000 new daily cases for the past few days. There are now more than 2.4 million infections and over 71,000 deaths in this highly traditional Muslim country.
According to reports, the spike came after Idul Fitri’s religious holiday, where people have returned to their homes despite a travel ban and crowds filled tourist spots.
These are the several factors that contributed to the spike of Covid-19 in Indonesia:
More people are taking the health protocols lightly after the vaccination. Many citizens feel euphoric and overconfident after the jab;
The presence of a highly contagious new Covid-19 Delta variant. This strain is more dangerous compared to the initial variant of Covid-19;
The return of migrant workers from India, Pakistan, and the Philippines at the same time people ignored a travel ban;
The quarantine period is five days only instead of 14 days for people from abroad and, some caught violating health protocols;
The government has reduced the number of contact tracers. At the end of June, the tracing ratio is 1:10 while the standard should be at least 1:30.
The country should learn from the tragedy in India and the crises in Indonesia. People should not be complacent about the health protocol and standard even if they got vaccinated.
There are 35 Delta variant cases in the country. Many of them are returning overseas Filipino workers. Travel ban from Indonesia until the end of the month is a good move by the government. Department of Health plans to include Malaysia and Thailand in the travel ban is a welcome development.
We should continue to strictly impose the 14 days quarantine period on all returning overseas contract workers. Impose localized lockdown on areas affected by the Delta variants.
Pay contact tracers regularly to sustain them and to keep up their work standard and productivity.
The people in the Philippines are not far from India and Indonesia when it comes to culture and attitude. They are very religious and traditional people but skeptical and hesitant to obey authorities implementing health protocols and standards.