Highlights in the media today: Offices become high-risk transmission areas, Experts criticize govt for delay in forming COVID-19 team, Global debt surges due to pandemic.

According to Indonesian Public Health Association (IAKMI) Chairman Ede Surya Darmawan, office areas have become high-risk transmission areas, as people resume  work activities while disregarding health protocols.

He said that the campaign to calm the public had backfired as many people began to act as if the pandemic had ended. The government and offices should implement health protocols more strictly to effectively contain the virus.

Indonesia is in 24th place on the list of countries with the highest number of cases. Among the 24 countries, Indonesia conducted the least number of polymerase chain reaction tests. As of Thursday (July 24), the country’s positivity rate was 14.3%

As of July 24 16:11 (GMT+7), Indonesia had confirmed 95,418 COVID-19 cases with 53,945 recoveries and 4,665 deaths.

The government has recently established a new COVID-19 response team to handle the impact of the pandemic in both health and economic sectors—a move that experts deemed as coming “too late”.

Airlangga University (Unair) public policy expert Agie Nugroho Soegiono said that the government’s decision to only establish an integrated team now was a consequence of its previous lack of urgency in dealing with the virus, when it first spread across the country earlier this year.

House of Representatives Commission IX member Netty Prasetiyani, meanwhile, urged the government to build a more robust health policy in handling the virus. The government, she said, had been favoring the economy over public health.

The pandemic has caused state debts to surge worldwide. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) predicted that the global debt will increase by more than 100% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020.

The Finance Ministry projected that the debt-to-GDP ratio will increase from 30% in 2019 to 37%-38% this year. The figure might even go up to 40%, according to the World Bank’s prediction.

Institute for Development of Economics and Finance (Indef) Vice Director Eko Listiyanto said that the surge in debt was inevitable and must be followed by an effective economic recovery program. Eko said that an economic recovery in the second half of the year will determine whether the country will fall into recession or not.

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