Jabs shift up to high gear

Taking turns: People waiting to get vaccinations against Covid-19 at a makeshift mass vaccination centre at a stadium in Bandung. — AFP

President Joko Widodo has ordered the Jakarta administration to fast-track the Covid-19 vaccination drive so that Indonesia’s capital can reach herd immunity by August, as cases in the city continue to rise exponentially following the Aidilitri holiday last month.

This was met with confidence from Governor Anies Baswedan, who expected millions of Jakartans to be inoculated by mid-August. But health experts are sceptical, saying it is an “unrealistic” target.

In his instruction on Monday, the President said he wanted Jakarta to vaccinate 100,000 people a day starting next week.

“It’s an ambitious target but we have no other option,” Joko said after attending a vaccination event in North Jakarta with Anies and Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin.

Experts estimate that at least 70% of the population should be inoculated to reach herd immunity against the coronavirus.

Joko said Jakarta had a very high level of mobility and social interactions so the speed of vaccine rollout would “determine how fast Covi-19 will spread” in the city.

Jakarta has seen an alarming resurgence of coronavirus cases in the past weeks, with officials and experts saying that the capital is now in a “critical phase” and could see a higher spike than the last wave of infections in January.

The city’s health facilities are now at risk of collapsing, with the hospital bed occupancy rate increasing from 45% to 75% in just a week.

Jakarta remains the biggest contributor to daily cases in Indonesia, which recorded 12,624 cases on Thursday, with around 4,144 cases coming from the capital city.

It was among the highest daily case figures ever reported by the city, second only to 4,213 cases reported on Feb 7.

Anies said he would ask for help from community leaders across the city to accelerate vaccinations “so that by Aug 17, when Indonesia commemorates independence day, Jakarta can announce that we have reached herd immunity”, kompas.com reported. — The Jakarta Post/ANN

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