The total cases of coronavirus infection in Indonesia have passed one million, making Indonesia the first country in Southeast Asia to reach this number.
UGM epidemiologist dr. Riris Andono said this number showed the Covid-19 transmission in Indonesia was not yet under control, thus needing more serious policies to overcome the pandemic.
“The more important thing is how much it can affect the Covid-19 control, whether this number (1 million cases) can trigger more serious policies to suppress transmission or not,” said Riris.
He revealed the pandemic curve in Indonesia had yet to reach its peak up to this time. The curve once sloped down, but when mobility restrictions loosened, the transmission rate continued to increase, leading to hospitals no longer have sufficient capacity to accommodate patients.
“This is a sign that we are undergoing a period of spike since the transmission is now widespread in the country,” he said.
Pandemic control, he explained, requires firm policies, especially in mobility restrictions. When the contagion has become massive, 3M implementation is no longer sufficient.
The enforcement of public activity restrictions (PPKM) in Java-Bali for two weeks on 11-25 January is also deemed ineffective in suppressing transmission since the mobility level has not changed much in reality.
According to him, the restriction policy of the operating hours of shopping centers to 7 pm is also useless if the number of people visiting the place does not decrease significantly.
“What is more important is not that the duration is slightly shortened, but rather how many people per unit of time are there,” he explained.
The increasing number of cases during the PPKM enforcement shows this policy is ineffective. Non-optimal policy implementation can even reduce public trust.
“Half-baked policies will instead be counterproductive. People do not believe in PPKM because it restricts their life, yet cases are still increasing,” said Riris.
So as to achieve the desired results, it is necessary to have effective policies that can massively reduce the mobility of at least up to 70 percent.
If more than 70 percent of the population does not go out of their house for two weeks, the infected can recover in their own bubble and do not have time to transmit the virus to others.
“Those who live in the same house may get infected, but the transmission will stop at that particular house. Only then will the test and treat be intensified to look for those who still have the possibility of transmitting it after two weeks,” said Riris.
He further added that the government must show their seriousness not only when designing policies but also in the implementation. Although restriction policies such as PSBB or PPKM continue to apply, the control objectives are impossible to achieve without serious enforcement.
Strict restrictions, he added, might reap negative responses from the public. However, this step has proven to enable some countries to pass the first wave of the pandemic.
“New normal does not mean we shift into a fixed condition. This tug-of-war-like condition, between tightening and loosening, is what new normal is,” he concluded.