5 out of 6 provinces in Indonesia's Java register drop in Covid-19 cases

Authorities attributed the decline in cases to emergency restrictions imposed on Java and other areas of the country since early this month. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Most of Java, the most-populous island in Indonesia, has reported an improvement in the Covid-19 situation.

The number of confirmed cases in five of its six provinces - Banten, West Java, East Java, Yogyakarta and Jakarta - has declined, according to the health ministry. The authorities attributed the decline in cases to emergency restrictions that have been imposed on Java and other areas of the country since early this month.

Central Java is the only outlier, with the province accounting for the most deaths nationwide on Tuesday (July 27). The number of deaths in the province jumped to 417, 147 more than the day before.

On Sunday, President Joko Widodo extended the partial lockdown in parts of the country to Aug 2.

The tighter restrictions have led to the suspension of most activities and the closure of non-essential public places, including malls, places of worship and parks from July 3. Most eateries are allowed to only offer takeaways and deliveries.

During a national government coordination meeting on Covid-19 on Sunday night , Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said the capital had seen a downtrend in its Covid-19 indicators.

A government official, who was at the meeting, said the governor informed those present that Jakarta's positivity rate - the percentage of people who test positive for the coronavirus against the overall number of those tested - had dropped to about 25 per cent, from 36 per cent the previous week.

"The figures are far from ideal. We are targeting for it to fall further to 10 per cent or ideally below 5 per cent," Mr Anies was quoted as saying.

Nationwide, Indonesia has recorded a seven-day average of 40,429 confirmed cases on Monday and this represented an 18 per cent decline from the figure on July 19, according to the health ministry's latest daily update.

The bed occupancy rate for Covid-18 patients in hospital has also declined by 3 per cent in the same period.

But epidemiologists, including Dr Tri Yunis Miko Wahyono from the University of Indonesia, cautioned that significant declines in the positivity rate across the country are still needed before anyone could be confident about Indonesia getting out of the woods.

Java and Bali account for more than 60 per cent of the total confirmed Covid-19 cases in the world's fourth-most populous country, which has so far reported more than 3.2 million infections and over 86,000 deaths. Nationwide, 2,069 people died on Tuesday, another record for a single day.

Senior Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, who has been tasked by Mr Widodo to coordinate efforts to contain the spread of the virus in the two major islands and led Sunday's coordination meeting, stressed the need for the provinces to encourage all parties, including the private sector, to offer Covid-19 test services to help with early detection and therefore treatment of the disease.

"Provinces need to loosen bureaucracy on issuing permits for clinics, test laboratories, so we have more tests," Mr Luhut said, pointing out Jakarta's high testing rate that he said had to be replicated elsewhere.

"I appeal to you to do this shortly," he added.

On Monday, Indonesia began ramping up contact tracing and reinforcing quarantine facilities to deal with the highly infectious Delta variant of the coronavirus.

A digital contact-tracing system was adopted and field personnel were deployed to work with community clinics, local health departments across cities and regencies in the country.

In a separate development, Singapore Second Minister for Foreign Affairs Maliki Osman held a video call with Riau Islands Provincial Governor Ansar Ahmad and Batam Mayor Muhammad Rudi on Tuesday to convey an assistance package from Singapore that comprises medical supplies and equipment, including 250 oxygen cylinders, medication, test kits and personal protective equipment.

The package will be dispatched in the coming days.

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