Pandemic has made several changes to the living order, including in Eid Fitr preparation. Last year, the government prevented people from going on mass homeward-bound journeys to their hometowns or in Indonesian, it is called mudik. This year, it goes different because the government has no longer prevented the public from doing so. According to UGM Epidemiologist, dr. Riris Andono Ahmad, MPH., Ph.D., the government must have reasons behind this. He appealed that the government might likely consider the public’s immunization coverage. However, this reason cannot be simply justified. Despite good or bad immunization, people should keep implementing health protocols as one and foremost way to prevent Covid-19 transmission.
“The government would likely think that the immunization coverage is good enough and it could control the situation even more,” he said on Wednesday (17/3) at UGM Campus.
Regrettably refers to the fact, the community has not had good immunization coverage. In fact, the vaccine program is currently still being centralized. To be put in other words, the vaccine implementation is still only around the central cities. Thus, even if some people were vaccinated, they should keep implementing health protocols.
Riris also revealed that the preference of transportation mode was also influential for Covid-19 transmission. He stated that public transportation was relatively safer than those who go on collective mass homeward-bound journeys (mudik bersama). For instance, on the way home, they have their stuff switched. This condition proves that this collective journey is riskier.
“Any possibility could happen depending on the situation because it involves many parties,” he said.
Related to vaccines, he maintained that instead of concerning the vaccine’s target number, the government should be concerned about how fast the public gets vaccinated. It means that the faster, the better.
In the first wave of vaccination, there were 4 million people vaccinated. Then, it was followed by the second wave of vaccination that involved 1.5 million people. The problem is not about the target of accomplishment, but the vaccine effectiveness in 5.5 million people.
“If it fulfills the government’s target or perhaps the first wave is arguably effective more than 100 percent, could it ensure whether the coverage is high enough in the population which is then able to lower the risk of transmission?” he explained.
Riris also added that the vaccine program could make people optimistic or otherwise. There is a possibility that vaccines can make someone easily be neglectful of health protocols because they might feel that they have already been safe.
Regarding the fact that there is no prevention for people to go on mudik or mass homeward bound journeys this year, Riris revealed that the regions could have enacted a policy by ensuring those who came had vaccine certificates or infection-free letters to minimize risk, although the risk remains there.
He hoped that there should still be coordination between the local governments in making policy with the central government. In fact, a region can make a policy according to the local context because of the current condition, and it will not be considered contradictory.
“Vaccine letters, or free from covid statements and others are still very necessary to minimize the risk. Even with such efforts, we can still be infected,” Riris explained.
Regarding the policy that will be implemented, this discussion is not only applied at an individual but also population level to get the more controlled condition.
Therefore he hopes at his big level should still be postponed first. As for the micro-level, it can be taken into account several things. For example, both parties who visited and visited have vaccines, health protocols are still carried out, and use a mode of transportation that is guaranteed safety.
This prevention effort might not be implemented on the macro scale. But it can be implemented on a micro-scale; in this case, the regional scale, the regional government has to ensure that both parties (visitor and the guest) should have been vaccinated, implement health protocols, and use safer transportation modes.
“Important to remember that the duration of a mass homeward bound journey is quite long. It means we can get infected during the trip. If the journey is more than seven days, it can transmit others. When you leave, you may still be in a healthy condition, but you can get infected on the way home. Later, when you have arrived in your hometown, and you stay more than a week, you can presumably be a source of transmission,” he explained.
Hence, he highly expected people not to go home first and reduce the mobility considering the vaccination coverage has not been high enough even when Eid al-Fitr comes.
“The risk of transmission is still quite high. Even if we are vaccinated, we could still be at risk. The most important parts focus on the virus transmission itself and its purpose to reduce death risk,” he said.
Author : Agung Nugroho
Photo : youtube.com
Translator: Natasa A