Highlights in the media today: Health Ministry caps price of rapid test kits, Pantura becomes high-risk COVID-19 transmission point, non-tariff barriers may limit food accessibility and affordability. 

The Health Ministry has capped the price of rapid test kits at Rp150,000, Health Ministry Disease Control and Prevention Director-General Achmad Yurianto confirmed on Tuesday (July 7). Previously, Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi had requested the Finance Ministry to subsidize rapid test kits for public transportation users.

As of July 8 16:03 (GMT+7), Indonesia had confirmed 68,079 COVID-19 cases with 31,585 recoveries and 3,359 deaths.

The Pantura Highway along the northern coast of Java has become a high-risk COVID-19 transmission point. Regions along the highway, such as Semarang and Surabaya, are among the major contributors of COVID-19 cases.

Laporcovid19.org epidemiologist Iqbal Elyazar said in Jakarta on Tuesday (July 7) that without any inter-regional barriers, COVID-19 transmission would follow along transportation routes. Land transportation routes could become vulnerable points for transmission, he added.

The high susceptibility of regions along the Pantura Highway to COVID-19 transmission was reflected in the high number of cases and deaths recorded in those regions. For instance, 15 cities and regencies along the Pantura Highway in Central Java accounted for 77% of the total number of confirmed cases and 75% of the total number of deaths in the province.

Indonesia’s non-tariff barriers on food imports may limit the accessibility and affordability of nutritious foods during the pandemic. Indonesia has 433 non-tariff measures related to food imports, according to data compiled by the Center for Indonesian Policy Studies (CIPS).

The barriers have made beef prices in Indonesia significantly higher than international prices, CIPS Research Head Felippa Ammanta said on Thursday (July 2). The price of rice in Indonesia is also 50%-70% higher than in neighboring countries.

About 19.4 million Indonesians are unable to meet their dietary requirements, due to poverty and high food prices, according to the World Food Program (WFP) data.

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