Epidemiologists challenge government claim Covid-19 pandemic under control

Kompas.com – August 3, 2021
Volunteers remove body of Covid-19 victim from home in Bogor – July 9, 2021 (Merdeka)

Wahyuni Sahara, Jakarta – Epidemiologist Dicky Budiman from Griffith University in Australia says that the Covid-19 pandemic in Indonesia is not yet properly under control.

This can be seen from Indonesia's daily positivity rate, which is still very high at 20.28 percent as per August 2. This figure is far higher than the standard positivity rate set by the World Health Organisation (WHO) of 5 percent.

"It's very clearly (not yet under control). A positivity rate above 10 percent means the pandemic situation is not yet under control", said Budiman when contacted by Kompas.com on Tuesday August 3.

The high positivity rate, said Budiman, is of serious note because Indonesia has for too long had a situation of uncontrolled community transmission.

"This is dangerous, because it means cases of deaths will be very high and illness pronounced", he said.

Budiman acknowledged that based on reports, the number of Covid-19 cases in Indonesia has declined, but the spread of the virus in the community is in fact still high.

"If cases decline, meaning reported cases decline, yes. [But does it mean] that the cases in the community have declined, no. But if the reported cases decline, yes, because from the reports it is indeed like that. Within the community [the cases are] going up, high", said Budiman.

Don’t trust government claims

Speaking in the same vein, epidemiology expert Pandu Riono from the University of Indonesia also does not believe that the Covid-19 situation in Indonesia has experienced an improvement as claimed by the government.

"This shouldn't be trusted", said Riono. According to Riono, the Covid-19 situation in Indonesia is still far from improving. "No way (has it experienced and improvement). [We're] still a long way from that", said Riono.

Based on records by the Covid-19 Task Force compiled by Kompas.com, the daily number of new Covid-19 cases in Indonesia can still be categorised as high.

In the period between July 8 and 20, there were a total of 570,661 additional positive cases in Indonesia. Meanwhile between July 21 and August 2, there was an addition of 512,148 new cases.

Based on this data, it can be seen that the number of cases has indeed experienced a decline, but it is not significant.

According to Budiman however, the decline in cases is because the number of test conducted has also declined.

In addition to this, the number of Covid-19 deaths is also still very high.

Between July 8 and 21, as many as 13,292 people were recorded as dying of Covid-19. Meanwhile for the period between July 22 and August 2, this rose to 21,091 people.

Jokowi claims situation has improved

Earlier, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo claimed that the implementation of Level 4 Enforcement of Restrictions on Public Activities (PPKM), which was in force between July 26 to August 2, has brought with it improvements on a national scale compared with the previous period.

These improvements, said Widodo, can be seen in terms of daily confirmed cases, the number of active cases, the number of recovered patients and bed occupancy rates (BOR).

Despite there being an improvement, Widodo has maintained the Level 4 PPKM in a number of regions from August 3 to August 9 because the Covid-19 situation in Indonesia is still very dynamic and fluctuating greatly.

"Although there has been an improvement, the development of Covid-19 cases is still very dynamic and fluctuating. Once again, we must continue to be on alert in pursuing efforts to control these Covid-19 cases", said Widodo during a press conference broadcast on the Presidential Secretariat YouTube channel on August 2.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Epidemiolog Sebut Pandemi Covid-19 Indonesia Belum Terkendali dengan Baik".]

Source: https://nasional.kompas.com/read/2021/08/03/15130961/epidemiolog-sebut-pandemi-covid-19-indonesia-belum-terkendali-dengan-baik