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Highlights in the media today: Govt to increase hospital capacity, protect health workers, Jakarta closes eight companies on first day of PSBB, Exports record decline in August due to slowing global activity.

The government has continued to increase the capacity of its healthcare system to handle the pandemic. However, simply adding more beds or appointing more referral hospitals are not enough.

The government must also prioritize the protection of health workers, both from the transmission risk and social stigma, as it is still unclear when the pandemic will end. Many health workers have fallen victim to the virus; at least 78 nurses and more than 100 doctors have died of the virus infection.

COVID-19 Task Force Head Doni Monardo said that while efforts to secure candidate vaccines and drugs continued, the country should also prepare to handle the pandemic for the long term. President Joko Widodo has set a target  to slow down COVID-19 transmission and reduce fatalities in nine hardest-hit provinces, including Jakarta and East Java.

As of September 16 15:44 (GMT+7), Indonesia had confirmed 228,993 COVID-19 cases, with 164,101 recoveries and 9,100 deaths. In the past 24 hours, the country recorded its highest-ever daily number of 3,963 cases.

The Jakarta administration forced eight companies to close down temporarily following inspections on Monday (September 14). Jakarta Manpower, Transmigration, and Energy Office Head Andri Yansyah said that the authorities had found several employees at five of the companies testing positive for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, the three other companies were shut down for failure to implement strict health protocols. The companies have to halt operations for three days, as mandated by Gubernatorial Regulation No. 29/2020 on COVID-19 sanctions.

Indonesia failed to continue an upward trend in monthly exports in August as slow global economic recovery reduced demand for the country’s products.

According to Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data, the country recorded $13.07 billion in exports in August, down 4.62% compared to July and down 8.34% annually. The country recorded month-on-month (mom) export growth in June and July after contractions in April and May, during which Indonesia implemented strict social restrictions.

BPS Head Suhariyanto said on Tuesday (September 15) that exports dropped due to slowing global economic activity, while demand from trading partners remained weak compared to previous years.

The country booked a $2.23 billion trade surplus in August, lower than the nine-year high of $3.26 billion recorded in July, as exports fell in the month while contraction in imports slowed. As of August, Indonesia had recorded a surplus of $11.05 billion versus the $2.06 billion deficit in the same period last year.

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