Indonesia to enforce fresh restrictions amid surge in Covid-19 cases

Jakarta, Jan 6 (efe-epa).- Indonesia on Wednesday announced fresh physical distancing measures and other restrictions for two weeks on the island of Java – the most populated in the archipelago – and Bali, a popular tourist destination, amid a surge in cases of the new coronavirus.

Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto said that between Jan. 11-25, attendance in offices would be reduced to 75 percent, places of worship would be allowed to function only at half their capacity and shopping hours would be reduced at malls.

The decision comes after authorities reviewed data on the increasing pressure on hospitals and a growing mortality rate.

Indonesia, world’s fourth most populated country with around 265 million inhabitants, on Wednesday registered 7,400 new cases of Covid-19 including 198 deaths, taking the total number of infections to over 772,000 and the death toll touching 22,911.

The measures are set to take effect two days before the start of a mass vaccination campaign, which will kick off on Jan. 13 with President Joko Widodo receiving the first shot of the vaccine produced by Chinese firm Sinovac in a bid to boost public confidence in the drive.

The authorities have already begun distributing 1.2 million doses of the Sinovac vaccine among the 34 provinces of the country, which will receive another batch of 1.8 million doses this month along with material to produce the antidote in their own laboratories,

After a teleconference with provincial governors on Wednesday, Widodo said that 5.8 million doses of the vaccine would be distributed in January, followed by 10.45 million in February and 13.3 million in March during the first phase of the vaccination campaign.

Initially, the campaign will prioritize inoculating 1.3 million health workers and around 17.4 million other public employees aged between 18 and 59.

Indonesia expects to receive the major part of vaccines pledged to it throughout the second half of this year, and as per preliminary plans, aims to immunize around 181.5 million people by March 2022.

Jakarta has signed purchase agreements with Sinovac, Pfizer and AstraZeneca among other companies to buy a total of around 329.5 million vaccines. EFE-EPA


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