Indonesia’s president pledged to improve COVID-19 testing and treatment in an address Monday marking the country’s independence and said the pandemic had changed Indonesian culture in ways that would be a foundation for advancement.

Wearing masks, not shaking hands and avoiding crowds of people were once taboo, while working from home, distance learning, online meetings and online court have become new habits “that we used to be hesitant to do,” President Joko Widodo said in the national speech marking the country’s 76th anniversary of independence.

“Amid today’s disruptive world, the spirit to change, the spirit to make changes and the spirit to innovate have become the foundation to build and advance Indonesia,” Widodo said. “With the COVID-19 pandemic, the acceleration of innovation has become an integrated part of our everyday lives.”

Only half of the 711 lawmakers and senators were in Parliament for Widodo’s speech on the eve of Independence Day with the rest attending remotely in a social-distancing measure.

The world’s fourth-most populous country hit peaks last month with daily highs of 50,000 new cases, more than five times the usual highs in June. And July was its deadliest month, with more than 30,100 deaths from COVID-19 as sick people overwhelmed hospitals or died at home or while waiting on care. Its totals of 3.8 million cases and 117,588 fatalities are considered undercounts due to low testing and poor tracing measures in the nation of 270 million people.

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