Indonesia shortens year-end holiday to contain coronavirus outbreak

Indonesia is grappling with South-east Asia's largest outbreak, with a cumulative total of 543,975 recorded Covid-19 cases as at Dec 1.
Indonesia is grappling with South-east Asia's largest outbreak, with a cumulative total of 543,975 recorded Covid-19 cases as at Dec 1.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (BLOOMBERG, THE JAKARTA POST/ANN) - Indonesia cut short its year-end holiday in a bid to curb the spread of coronavirus infections, after a long weekend in October led to a spike in confirmed cases weeks later.

The government shortened the break by three days, compared with an 11-day long stretch previously. Now, only Dec 24-25 and Dec 31-Jan 1 are set as public holidays.

The year-end holiday had been lengthened earlier to make up for the shortened mid-year Eid al-Fitr holiday.

Indonesia is grappling with South-east Asia's largest outbreak, with a cumulative total of 543,975 recorded Covid-19 cases as at Tuesday (Dec 1), and 17,081 deaths.

On Tuesday, there were 5,092 new cases and 136 deaths.

An association of doctors had urged the government to shorten or even scrap the holiday entirely as health workers struggled to keep up with the workload.

The shorter holiday could deal a blow to airlines as well as tourist hot spots such as Bali, which had banked on the year-end for a revival in consumer demand.

Meanwhile, beds for Covid-19 patients at hospitals in Yogyakarta, one of Indonesia's top tourist and education destinations, had reached almost full capacity on Monday (Nov 30) following a continuous increase in confirmed cases over the past few weeks. The Yogyakarta province saw its daily average surge to 70 new cases in November compared to a daily average of 38 new cases in October.

The Yogyakarta Health Agency said the province had readied 463 total beds for Covid-19 patients at 27 referral hospitals. The beds are provided in 49 critical care units equipped with ventilators and 414 non-critical care units.

As of Monday, 95 per cent of all available beds for treating Covid-19 patients, or 442, were occupied.

This left only 21 beds in the province for new patients, comprising eight beds in critical care units and 13 beds in non-critical care units. The beds at Yogyakarta’s referral hospitals have been filling up rapidly over the past few weeks, and reached 50 per cent capacity on Nov 12.