The government has been evaluating the implementation of the public activity restrictions (PPKM) in all regions on weekly basis. The measure is part of the efforts to maintain the country’s declining trend in COVID-19 infections, as well as to anticipate the risk of transmission during upcoming religious events and holidays. Health Ministry COVID-19 spokeswoman Dr. Siti Nadia Tarmizi said on Wednesday that cases and deaths had been declining over the past two months. “Weekly cases have dropped 23 percent compared to the previous week, while the death rate fell 32 percent,” Nadia said. She added that the bed occupancy rates (BORs) of hospital isolation rooms and intensive care units (ICUs) were below 60 percent capacity.

“This has allowed other medical services to be restored, with strict and disciplined application of the health protocols,” she said. As for the nationwide vaccination rollout, Nadia said vaccine distribution was averaging 2 million doses per day thanks to public participation and volunteers, as well as the full support of various public and private sectors, including the Indonesian Military, National Police and businesses. “Currently, we have a supply of 10 types of vaccines that have emergency use approval from the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency [BPOM] and are on the WHO’s EUL,” she said, referring to the World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing for COVID-19 vaccines. “These vaccines also have permission from the Indonesian Ulema Council in the form of halal certification,” Nadia added. The public should therefore not doubt the vaccines’ efficacy, she said, as the government guaranteed that all vaccines allocated for public use were safe and effective. Nadia said that Indonesia ranked fifth in the world in the number of fully vaccinated people and sixth globally in total doses administered, while it ranked first in Southeast Asia on the Nikkei COVID-19 Recovery Index. She also added that community mobility was increasing in interregional travel as well as at business centers and recreation venues, which was positive for economic rebound. She also expected the public to contribute to the positive trend by maintaining discipline in following the health protocols. “The government has been discussing a plan to reopen Bali, Batam and Bintan, as well as scenarios for the upcoming religious holidays,” said Nadia, referring to the Prophet Muhammad’s Birthday, Christmas and New Year. “The Guidelines on Organizing Religious Celebrations, which has been designed to anticipate transmission risk, has been issued.”

Meanwhile, the government’s COVID-19 handling spokeswoman and ambassador of new habits adoption, Dr. Reisa Broto Asmoro, acknowledged that several religious events she had attend on Oct. 8, 2021 in Sanur, Bali, had been a good learning opportunity on organizing public events. First, the local COVID-19 task force and security personnel should be granted full access to anticipate potential infections, including maintaining safe distance. Second, all parties involved in an event, including participants, must be screened and tested, with entry granted only to individuals that were healthy and fully vaccinated. Third, the PeduliLindungi official tracking app must be used all event entrances, venues must provide handwashing facilities and all participants must wear masks.

Continuing, Reisa said that fourth, organizers must install warning signs in strategic spots and make regular public announcements on adhering to the health protocols during the event. Finally, constant monitoring of all organizers, workers and participants was mandatory. The monitoring should show 100 percent negative COVID-19 results. According to a report from the Bali COVID-19 Task Force, she said, the five days following the Ngaben cremation ceremony detected zero new infections. “We are grateful for the extended families, the people of Sanur and all relevant parties who have proved that the adaptation has worked well. It has proven that the health protocols can be adopted for a big religious ceremony,” said Reisa. Ahead of the upcoming Maulid and year-end holiday season, she went on, the government had been ensuring that the mobility restrictions could be eased by enhancing transmission control, expanding vaccination coverage for the elderly, pushing for accelerated vaccination of children and anticipating international travelers. It was also enhancing local monitoring capacities, improving community COVID-19 literacy and maintaining public compliance with the health protocols. Reisa said that people must fulfill three requirements under the new habits adoption program: be vaccinated, wear masks in public and do not remove masks in public. “The pandemic is still here. The virus is still threatening our lives. But with the help of the vaccines and the health protocols, we can suppress the risk so it is as low as possible.”

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