Highlights in the media today: Indonesia records highest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths in Southeast Asia, Jakarta governor admits difficulties in containing virus in wet markets, Administrative issues hamper COVID-19 fund disbursement.

Indonesia currently has the highest number of cases and deaths due to COVID-19 in Southeast Asia.  As of Thursday (July 2), 503,132 people have been tested and the positivity rate has reached 11.8%, higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO) cut-off of 5%.

Based on WHO report on the pandemic development in Indonesia published on Wednesday (July 1), the infection risk in Indonesia is high because of the increasing inter-region movements, following the relaxation of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB).

As of July 3 16:04 (GMT+7), Indonesia had confirmed 60,695 COVID-19 cases with 27,568 recoveries and 3,036 deaths.

Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan admitted on Wednesday (July 1) that containing the virus in wet markets and the KRL Commuter Line was complicated. According to Anies, one of the main problems in controlling the virus spread in wet markets was the ineffectiveness of the odd-even kiosk policy, as it had failed to reduce the number of wet market visitors.

Universitas Indonesia (UI) Economics and Business Faculty Vice Dean Teguh Dartanto said that limiting merchants’ economic activity was counterproductive as wet markets serve as a lifeline for a majority of the people.

Several administrative issues have hampered the government’s efforts to swiftly disburse COVID-19 funds, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said.

The disbursement of the COVID-19 fund for the healthcare sector, for instance, stood at less than 5% so far. The Health Ministry has encountered problems in verifying hospitals, doctors’ names, and their areas of duty, meaning that not all frontlinters have received government incentives.

Economists have long urged the government to swiftly disburse the allocated funds as the pandemic has hit private consumption and businesses. Meanwhile, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) announced Wednesday (July 1) that inflation stood at 1.96% in June, the lowest in 20 years and below Bank Indonesia’s target range of between 2%-4% for the year.

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