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Highlights in the media today: Hospitals nearing full capacity, President claims Indonesian vaccine ‘ready for production in mid-2021’, Indonesia to face ‘near-certain recession’ in Q3. 

COVID-19 referral hospitals in several regions across Indonesia are nearing full capacity as the number of cases continues to surge. As of early September, the occupancy rate in 67 referral hospitals in Jakarta reached 77%.

Similarly, in Semarang, 680 out of 856 hospital beds (79.4%) had been occupied as of Tuesday (September 1). Health Ministry Health Service Acting Director General Abdul Kadir urged local administrations to increase the capacity of their healthcare system.

Kadir said that there were 868 COVID-19 referral hospitals across the country, with a total occupancy rate of 47.8%.

As of September 2 16:31 (GMT+7), Indonesia had confirmed 180,646 COVID-19 cases, with 129,971 recoveries and 7,616 deaths. In the past 24 hours, the government had confirmed 3,075 new cases.

Indonesia aims to begin producing its locally developed COVID-19 vaccine candidate by mid-2021, President Joko Widodo said in a limited Cabinet meeting on Tuesday (September 1).

The president claimed that the national consortium tasked with developing the potential vaccine, called Merah Putih (Red and White), was currently in the process of making “vaccine seeds”. He said that the process was 30%-40% done.

Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology Director Amin Soebandrio said previously that the Merah Putih vaccine candidate was expected to cover at least 50% of Indonesia’s vaccine needs.

The Indonesian economy faces a “near-certain recession” in Q3 this year, economists said. The country’s economy shrank 5.32% in Q2—the worst since 1999. Universitas Indonesia (UI) senior economist Faisal Basri predicted that the economy may shrink by a further 3% in Q3 due to the government’s incompetence in handling the pandemic.

He urged the government to follow the steps of countries like Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand that prioritized pandemic response over economy and have seen their economies recover at a faster pace. He said that the government’s strategy in handling the pandemic is waiting for a vaccine, without doing anything in the meantime.

Finance Ministry Sri Mulyani Indrawati said recently that the government expected the economy to shrink 2% at worst or post flat growth at best in Q3.

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