Jakarta Increase Restriction Back to Level 2 as Tracing Rate Decreased

Due to low screening rate, Jakarta has increased its restriction back to level 2. Indonesian government cautiously respond to Omicron Variant.

Nusantara Pol - Spokesman for the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs & Investment, Jodi Mahardi, stated that the Community Activity Restrictions (PPKM) for Java and Bali regions are extended for 14 days. The policy will be in effect from November 30 to December 13, 2021.

"It is extended by two weeks," said Jodi as quoted from Kompas, Monday (29/11/2021).

Meanwhile, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs & Investment, who is also the PKKM coordinator for Java-Bali, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, assured that the implementation of activity restriction in Java-Bali is still under control. 

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs & Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. (Photo: Cabinet Secretariat)
Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs & Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. (Photo: Cabinet Secretariat)

This is indicated by the number of COVID-19 cases which has been maintained at a fairly low level. Furthermore, new confirmed cases have continued to decline by 99% since the peak of cases last July.

However, The Coordinating Minister also revealed that currently there is an increase in the effective reproduction rate or the national Rt.

Using an assessment from the World Health Organization, 10 regencies/cities have returned to level 2 restriction.

Two of them are in the Greater Jakarta area. And thus, all of areas inside DKI Jakarta have increased the restriction back to level 2.  

The level of restriction is increased back to level 2 because of the declining number of tracing (screening). 

The level 2 restriction means that most of public places' maximum capacity will be reduced to 50%. For non-essential offices, 50% of employee have to work from home.

Previously, Jakarta's restriction was downgraded to level 1 in November 2, 2021. The capital city has enjoyed low level restriction because of low COVID-19 incidences for a month.

Furthermore, all of area in Bali still maintains level 2 restriction.

Then, based on the results of the Java-Bali Google Mobility survey and the public's Expenditure Index, it shows that public's mobility has increased significantly compared to data in the 2020 Christmas and New Year period as well as the 2021 Eid Al-Fitr holiday period.

This indication, Luhut added, should be used as a reminder to be more disciplined in implementing health protocols and doing 3T (tracing, testing, and treatment).

Nevertheless, Luhut has asked the public not to panic.

"Currently, our number of testing and tracing is already much higher than in November last year. Our vaccination rate is also above 60% compared to 2020 when the vaccination program was not yet running," he said.

Luhut also reminds the public about the importance of discipline in health protocols with the support of the implementation of PeduliLindung tracing app.

"We just need to be vigilant and on guard by re-tightening the implementation of this health protocol which has begun to be neglected," he concluded.

Indonesia's Responses to Omicron Variant 

Previously on November 28, 2021, Indonesian government has decided to ban entry for foreigners who have a travel history, for the last 14 days, from countries where Omicron variants are detected. The inbound travels have been tightened and gnome sequencing has been intensified.

Epidemiologist from the Faculty of Public Health, University of Indonesia, Iwan Ariawan supports the steps taken by the government to anticipate the entry of Variant B. or Omicron to Indonesia.

The government's steps were taken based on input from epidemiologists spread across various universities. 

"We agree because it has been discussed with us, we have discussed with the government, the best action we can take at this time," said Iwan in a press statement delivered virtually, Sunday (11/28/2021) night.

To prevent the entry of the Omicron Variant, the government prohibits the entry of foreigners who have a history of travel for the last 14 days to eleven countries. They are South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Eswatini, Mozambique, Malawi, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Angola, Namibia and Hong Kong.

"In the next two weeks, we will see what developments are like, we will discuss again what the best preventive measures for Indonesia are," he said. 

Meanwhile, Minister of Health, Budi Gunadi Sadikin said that Indonesia already has a network of laboratories capable of detecting new variants of COVID-19 quickly.

“The world and Indonesia are now much faster and more sophisticated at identifying new variants. It is this new variant that causes the spike. So every time there is an Alpha, Beta, Delta, every time there is a new variant there is always a spike," he said.

The Minister of Health explained that the Omicron variant was first identified by GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data) on November 9, 2021.

After that, on November 24, 2021, the World Health Organization (WHO) determined the status of Variant under Investigation (VuI) and on November 26 2021 upgraded to Variant of Concern (VoC).

Indonesia then immediately followed up on the status of the Omicron Variant on November 28.

“Why does it become a variant of concern so fast? Because it has so many mutations and dangerous mutations from the previous variants are here. There are about 50 mutations," he said.

Until now, the Omicron variant has not been detected in Indonesia.