The COVID-19 cases are predicted to escalate in the second week of July. Vaccination is being pushed to strengthen community protection.
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JAKARTA, KOMPAS — The daily cases of COVID-19 due to the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants have continued to increase in the past week. The caseload of the disease, which is caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, will likely peak in the second week of next month. The government is looking to suppress the expected increase in cases by strengthening protection in the community through vaccination.
"If our community is ready [to take the vaccines], including boosters, most likely the increase [in cases] will not be extreme. That is why, we continue to push for the acceleration of boosters so that people's body immunity can be built up properly," Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said.
He was making the statement following a limited meeting to evaluate the implementation of restrictions on community activities led by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo and Vice President Ma'ruf Amin at the Merdeka Palace, Central Jakarta, on Monday (13/6/2022).
This has not interfered with our efforts toward endemic either.
The meeting was held in the wake of the reemerging increase in COVID-19 daily cases in the past week. Having previously been below 200 per day, the cases were reported to increase again to above 500 cases per day and peak at 627 on Friday (10/6).
Directorate general of public health secretary Siti Nadia Tarmizi confirmed the fresh increase in the transmission of COVID-19 in Indonesia. However, she gave her assurance that the situation was still under control, saying that the rates of case transmission and hospitalization were still below the limit threshold set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
"This has not interfered with our efforts toward endemic either," she said.
Nevertheless, the increase in COVID-19 cases should serve as a reminder about the need to keep vigilance over the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants that have been identified as causing infections in Indonesia. The subvariants are also reported to have contributed to a significant increase in the caseload of several other countries, such as South Africa and Portugal.
"The virus mutation undermines the vaccines. However, vaccination with the currently available vaccines is still effective in reducing the risk of severity and death. Therefore, it is important to immediately complete the vaccination with up to two doses, or even a booster," said Iris Rengganis, chair of the Indonesian Allergic Medication and Immunology Association.
She said primary doses of vaccination remained crucial for someone who had been infected with COVID-19 given the fact that the risk of repeated transmission or reinfection was still possible amid increasing community activities. She said protection was increasingly urgent for vulnerable groups, such as children and elderly.
While recommending immediate completion of vaccination with booster, Iris warned people against health-protocol negligence given the lurking risk of infection even after they had been vaccinated.
Primary dose vaccination coverage in Indonesia is still not optimal. The WHO has targeted that primary dose coverage should reach at least 70 percent of the population. The primary dose coverage in Indonesia has only amounted to up to 62.16 percent as of now.
The vaccination with boosters is still low, with only five out of 34 provinces having achieved more than 30 percent, namely Bali, Jakarta, Riau Islands, Yogyakarta and West Java.
Data at the COVID-19 Task Force showed an addition of around 120,000 people who received first and second jabs and boosters on 13 June, which was below the daily target of over 1 million recipients as expected by the government last year.
Siti Nadia Tarmizi said COVID-19 vaccination would continue to pace up to accelerate the coverage, especially in the regions where vaccination roll-out was still lagging. She hoped the public would build awareness about the urgency to immediately complete the vaccination doses.
“We will continue with the acceleration program by opening more vaccination centers. We also invite community leaders to make efforts so that the public is informed that this pandemic is not over yet," she said.
After five months without additional infection with COVID-19, the Papua administration reported a new case in Jayapura on Sunday (12/6). Jayapura Health Office head Ni Nyoman Sri Antari said an infection case had previously been found on 1 June, but the patient had recovered after undergoing self-treatment for several days.
She also appealed to the residents to immediately get the COVID-19 vaccine up to the third dose as a precautionary effort against an exposure to Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.
Meanwhile, Jakarta Deputy Governor Ahmad Riza Patria asked the residents to continue to comply with the health protocols and actively seek to access health facilities to get a third jab. "The provincial government will ensure that all residents get boosters," he said.
In East Java, Makhyan Jibril Alfarabi from the local COVID-19 task force said efforts to reach herd immunity had been pursued by increasing the primary or complete vaccination coverage as well as booster doses. Two years of experience in dealing with the pandemics has shown that vaccination proves to be effective in curbing COVID-19 with severe symptoms and mortality risks. (TAN/INA/FLO/HLN/NIK)