Indonesian coronavirus cases top 100,000 as more hotspots emerge

The number of infections has almost quadrupled since the end of May. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (BLOOMBERG) - Total coronavirus infections in Indonesia surged past 100,000 amid an easing of physical-distancing rules to allow economic activity to resume, prompting President Joko Widodo to order health officials to focus on containing the disease in the nation's eight main provinces.

There were 1,525 new confirmed cases over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 100,303, official data showed on Monday (July 27). The number of fatalities rose by 57 to 4,838 as more hotspots emerged, making it the highest tally among Southeast Asian nations.

The number of infections has almost quadrupled since the end of May as more cities and provinces, including the capital Jakarta and Indonesia's second-largest city Surabaya, began easing curbs in early June.

The pandemic threatens to send Indonesia's economy into its first recession since the Asian financial crisis in the late 1990s, battering small and big businesses alike, according to Mr Joko. The outbreak has rendered millions of people jobless, and may plunge many more into poverty.

Mr Joko told his Cabinet on Monday to expedite the spending of 695 trillion rupiah (S$66 billion) in fiscal stimulus to revive the economy which is forecast to contract 4.3 per cent in the second quarter. He also instructed health officials to focus on eight provinces, including capital Jakarta, which collectively account for about three-quarters of the nation's total infections.

The government has insisted in further opening Southeast Asia's largest economy despite the rising caseload. Bali, Indonesia's most popular holiday destination, is pressing ahead with a plan to welcome back foreign and domestic visitors even as the resort island reports a surge in new virus cases.

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