Indonesia starts 2nd phase of Covid-19 vaccination drive at biggest textile market

The market in Central Jakarta was abuzz with excitement as 40 vaccinators made preparations for the inoculation. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - The second phase of Indonesia's vaccination programme kicked off on Wednesday (Feb 17) at South-east Asia's biggest textile market in Tanah Abang, with 10,000 vendors having signed up to receive their first shot.

The market in central Jakarta was abuzz with excitement as 40 vaccinators made preparations for the inoculation.

There are 55,000 registered vendors at the market, and while not all have signed up, the country's Health Ministry said more are likely to register in the coming days to receive their shots.

President Joko Widodo said the second phase aims to vaccinate at least 38.5 million people, including those aged 60 and above, public officials and people whose daily routine involve intensive social interactions.

Phase one, which was rolled out on Jan 13, saw about 1.5 million medical workers in the world's fourth most populous nation receive two shots of a Covid-19 vaccine.

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin, who visited the textile market on Wednesday, told reporters that the government is not limiting the sites for inoculation to just health facilities.

"We vaccinate at health facilities, places of employment, at popular venues (like the market) and in stadiums, where mass vaccinations can be done," he added.

Indonesia is targeting to get 181.5 million people, or two-thirds of its more than 270 million population, vaccinated for the coronavirus.

Under phase two, there will be vaccination drives at markets, commercial centres across greater Jakarta and places across the most populous island of Java and Bali, before the programme is extended to the other provinces.

"Market vendors are prioritised because they interact with customers every day. Street vendors are also welcomed," Dr Maxi Rein Rondonuwu, director-general of the country's disease control and prevention department, told reporters at the Tanah Abang market.

He said of the top 10 provinces with the highest infection rates in the country, seven are in Bali and Java.

Indonesia has so far relied on China's Sinovac vaccine for the free vaccine programme, but will start receiving vaccines later this month from Britain's AstraZeneca, Pfizer from the United States and Novavax from the United States and Canada.

Indonesia currently has about 160,000 active Covid-19 cases, down from 175,000 last week.

It surpasses the 150,000 active cases in India, which has seen a significant decline in infections from its peak of one million active cases as at the third week of September last year.

The health minister said to curb the spread of the virus, the government will enlist the help of military and police officers to ramp up contact tracing efforts.

Vendors register to be vaccinated for Covid-19 at the Tanah Abang textile market in Jakarta on Feb 17, 2021. PHOTO: AFP

The World Health Organisation's recommendation is for all close contacts of a confirmed case to be identified within 72 hours of a positive result.

"This is something that can only be achieved if we rope in the military and police. A civilian organisation alone cannot do it," Mr Budi said, adding that the country's armed forces commander, Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto, and the national police chief, General Listyo Sigit Prabowo, have agreed to the plan.

The armed forces and police are the only government branches with a chain of command which extends from Jakarta to all provinces and regions in the country, said Mr Budi.

He added that under a decentralisation programme introduced more than two decades ago, Jakarta has no control, for example, over community clinics run by a city or regency government.

Indonesia has 34 provinces, made up of more than 500 cities and regencies.

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