Highlights in the media today: Experts urge govt to improve containment policy, Jakarta to extend transitional large-scale social restrictions (PSBB), Indonesia’s tourist sector loses Rp85 trillion in revenue.  

The government has issued a set of new protocols on COVID-19 management and mitigation based on the recommendations of the World Health Organization (WHO), but experts questioned whether the government would translate them into better containment policies.

Universitas Indonesia Public Health School Biostatistician Iwan Ariawan urged the government to be consistent in applying the new guidelines to its COVID-19 management strategy, including the criteria for determining whether a region has brought the local transmission under control. WHO Indonesia’s situation report dated July 15 states that Jakarta was the only province in Java to have achieved the “minimum case detection benchmark” for “comprehensive surveillance and testing of suspected cases”.

Indonesian Epidemiologists Association (PAEI) Chairman Hariadi Wibisono also insisted that a region must revoke the decision to ease restrictions once it noticed a negative trend, such as an increase in daily numbers.

As of July 17, 2020 16:12 (GMT+7), Indonesia had confirmed 83,130 COVID-19 cases, with 41,834 recoveries and 3,957 deaths.

The Jakarta Administration has decided to extend the implementation of the transitional large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) to July 17-31, as the province’s positivity rate was still above 5%. According to Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan on Thursday (July 16), Jakarta’s testing rate was already 3.6 times higher than what was recommended by the WHO.

However, the test results showed that Jakarta’s positivity rate reached 5.9%, higher than WHO’s cut-off of 5%. The province’s production number time (Rt) has also reportedly increased from 1 to 1.15 on July 12.

The COVID-19 pandemic has wiped out around Rp85 trillion of Indonesia’s tourism revenue so far this year. More than 95% of workers in the sector are being furloughed without pay, Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI) Chairman Hariyadi Sukamdani said on Tuesday (July 14).

Hariyadi said that the government’s tax incentives were not effective and many of the sector’s workers could not access the government’s pre-employment card program, resulting in a further blow to the industry.

He suggested banks to extend the debt-restructuring program and provide working capital loans to rescue businesses in the sector. Indonesia’s foreign visitor arrivals plunged 86.9% year-on-year in May, according to Statistics Indonesia data.

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