Indonesia extends reopening transition amid surge in COVID-19 cases

Bangkok Desk, Jul 31 (efe-epa).- Indonesian authorities on Friday began a two-week extension of its easing of restrictions amid a growing number of COVID-19 cases.

The large-scale social restrictions or “transitional phase” of a gradual reopening of essential services ahead of a new normal was supposed to end Thursday, however Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan announced that the measure will be extended until Aug. 13.

It comes after nearly 400 new COVID-19 cases and 19 deaths were reported in the last 24 hours in the metropolitan area where some 31 million people reside. The total number of infections in Jakarta was taken to 20,696.

Indonesia, with 106,000 cases and more than 5,000 deaths, is the Southeast Asian county worst hit country by the COVID-19 crisis. It has, however, not implemented strict lockdown measures and opted instead for isolating the population of the capital – which is the most affected region – by neighborhoods and zones.

On Thursday, the health authorities confirmed 1,904 new COVID-19 cases across the country along with 83 deaths.

The capital’s positivity rate – or the percentage of positive results from all tests – hit 6.5 percent this week, above the 5 percent recommended by the World Health Organization for relaxations, the Jakarta Post reported.

The reopening of Jakarta was planned for July 5, but was extended several times with the latest delay announced on Thursday.

The country was on its way to a new normal and had allowed the reopening of its places of worship, companies and other businesses, although with several restrictions in place.

The health authorities of the country have criticized the lack of precautionary and social distancing measures followed by the population to contain the spread of COVID-19, along with scarce mask usage.

Despite the rise in the number of cases and the postponement of a complete reopening, the government of President Joko Widodo is more concerned about reviving the country’s economy, and one government representative urged people to take to the streets in the face of a drastic decrease in economic activity.

Indonesia, which with its 270 million inhabitants is the fourth most populated country in the world, is heading towards a recession with a projected fall in gross domestic product of 3 percent this year. EFE-EPA


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