Jakarta extends transitional lockdown, delays cinema reopening

A soldier helps a boy put on a face mask during an event to mark the transitional period of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in East Jakarta. The boy was with his father (back, left), who was found violating PSBB measures and ordered to sweep the area as punishment. - The Jakarta Post/ Asian News Network

JAKARTA, July 18 (The Jakarta Post/ANN): Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan announced that the capital would extend the transitional period of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) for the next two weeks as the latest data have shown an increasing trend in new Covid-19 cases.

As a consequence of this extension, the city administration would delay further relaxations, such as reopening of movie theaters, that were initially scheduled to be implemented at the end of July, Anies said.

"Since the start (of the pandemic) our commitment has been to keep Jakarta residents safe," he said in a press conference on Thursday.

He explained that in the past week the capital city had recorded a 5.9 percent positivity rate, an almost 1 percent increase from the previous week.

"In the last five weeks of transitional PSBB Jakarta recorded a positivity rate of 4.4 percent in the first week, followed by 3.1 percent in the second week, 3.7 percent in the third week and 4.8 percent the following week. However, in the fifth week, the number increased to 5.9 percent," Anies said.

"Even though the rate is still below the national average of 12 percent, it is still above the positivity rate recommended by the World Health Organisation (WHO)," he added.

The positivity rate recommended by the WHO for reopening or relaxations is 5 percent or below.

On last Sunday, Anies had announced that the capital had recorded 404 new confirmed Covid-19 cases, the highest one-day spike since the outbreak began in the city. The spike came not long after Jakarta registered its previous record high of 359 cases a day prior and 308 cases last Wednesday.

As a result of the spike, the bed occupancy ratio in 67 Covid-19 reference hospitals across the capital had also increased in the past week, Anies said.

"There has been an increase in the bed occupancy ratio in the isolation rooms from 34 to 45 per cent. [...] However, the occupancy ratio in ICU rooms has decreased from 31 to 25 percent. This means that while the number of patients with mild or moderate Covid-19 symptoms has increased, there are fewer patients with severe symptoms," he said.

The Rt, or the virus reproduction number at a given time, Anies said, had also increased to 1.15 as of July 12.

"Our Rt is usually below 1, which means the outbreak was under control. However, the rate of 1.15 indicates an acceleration in transmission, so we have to be extra careful," he said.

According to Anies, the increase in Covid-19 cases in the capital could be partly attributed to the aggressive testing, case finding and tracing carried out by the Jakarta Health Agency.

"In the last week we yet again increased the number of PCR tests carried out. From July 9 to 15 we conducted 3,600 tests per 1 million residents, 3.6 times higher than the testing numbers recommended by the WHO," he said, adding that as of Wednesday, Jakarta had tested 299,439 people.

Anies urged Jakartans to stay alert and comply with health protocols as the city delayed the reopening of indoor entertainment venues.

"We had to postpone the reopening of cinemas and other indoor entertainment venues that were initially scheduled to open by the end of the month, until the trend gets better. So I remind all Jakartans not to take (COVID-19) lightly. Bear in mind, 66 percent of new COVID-19 patients in Jakarta in the past week reported no symptoms," he said.

"We have to be more disciplined in complying with health protocols. Stay at home, wear a mask in public places, wash your hands with soap regularly, and maintain a physical distance of at least 1 meter from other people," he added. - The Jakarta Post/Asian News Network
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