KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 — As the number of Covid-19 cases in Indonesia reached more than 8,000 and around 700 deaths, the government has struggled to manage an effective response to the pandemic.
Despite a number of partial lockdowns being imposed on several cities around Java and Sumatra, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has been reluctant to implement a national lockdown similar to what has been done in neighbouring countries such as Malaysia.
In Bali, where numbers of infected cases have been low, no restrictions have been imposed.
He has stated that such a move would drastically affect the lower income population, particularly those who are poor. In Indonesia, more than third of the people make around $2 daily.
However, critics have pointed out that testing has been low in the country of 270 million. It is the world’s fourth most populous country.
Indonesia has only tested 184 in every million. Germany has tested 20,700 for every million while Thailand has done 2,043 for every million.
The Foreign Minister, Retno Marsudi, has stated that the central government testing capacity was 12,000 per day.
This did was not consistent with what has been shared by the Ministry of Health.
The Ministry of Health’s daily reports have shown that they have been testing between 1,000 to 2,000 samples daily. Only 12 April had over 7,000 samples processed.
“The capacity of active laboratories to conduct tests has significantly increased. The capacity of testing has increased up to 12,000 per day,” said Retno.
There is a massive backlog of testing for people under monitoring and patients under surveillance.
Low levels of testing combined with one of the highest fatality rates in the world have led critics to question whether people have died while waiting for their results or have not even been tested.
However, more than 1,000 people have already been buried according to COVID-19 protocols.
Garbage bags and raincoats
Indonesia is also suffering from a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for healthcare workers. At least 26 doctors, six nurses and 10 nurses, including two directors of hospitals have died after contracting the coronavirus while on duty.
Healthcare workers in several locations have started to use raincoats and garbage bags as medical gowns.
University of Indonesia researchers have already warned that there could be 1.5 million cases and 140,000 deaths by next month.
More than 1 million workers have already been furloughed or laid off said the Finance Minister on Friday.
“The number of workers who have been furloughed [or laid off] during April is 1.2 million from formal sector workers,” Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said in a teleconference reported by Benar News. Workers in the non-formal sectors have also been seriously affected.
The government had earlier warned that 5.2 million Indonesians could lose their jobs.
On Friday, the Online Citizen reported that Indonesia implemented a temporary ban on domestic and international commercial flights until 1 June, with several exceptions including humanitarian and diplomatic flights. The ban is expected to have a ripple effect across the economy, which depends on a large amount of domestic travel.