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Highlights in the media today: COVID-19 transmission rate on the rise, Anies claims Jakarta on ‘right track’ in COVID-19 handling, Finance Minister projects economy to still struggle next year.

The COVID-19 transmission rate has rapidly increased, with the positivity rate reaching a record-high level at 26%. Meanwhile, the number of tests recorded yesterday dropped to 16,897, far from the national target of 38,000 tests per day.

So far, only Jakarta, West Sumatra, and Yogyakarta have met the World Health Organization’s (WHO) standard of testing at least one per 1,000 people per week. University of South Australia biostatistician Beben Benyamin said that Indonesia needed to increase the capacity and coverage of its testing to contain the virus.

As of September 7 15:59 (GMT+7), Indonesia had confirmed 196,989 COVID-19 cases, with 140,652 recoveries and 8,130 deaths. In the past 24 hours, the government had confirmed 2,880 new cases.

Despite the rising number of new infection cases in the capital, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan maintained that his administration was doing well in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor claimed that the capital had been aggressively conducting 50,000 COVID-19 tests per week.

He added that with the high number of tests, the capital had discovered more infected people who could be immediately subjected to hospital care or self-isolation, and this had resulted in a relatively low fatality rate of 2.9%—below the national and global average of around 5.1% and 3.4%, respectively.

However, the capital’s positivity rate has increased to 12.5%, more than twofold the WHO recommendation of 5% as the basis for relaxing social restrictions. East Jakarta’s Pondok Ranggon cemetery also expected to run out of space for COVID-19 graves in October because of the recent increase in the number of burials.

Nadi, the cemetery’s management officer, said that the average number of bodies buried there was at 700 a month. In August, an average 27 bodies were buried per day.

Indonesia’s economic recovery in 2021 may not reach “full power” as the COVID-19 pandemic was expected to continue to dampen domestic consumption and investment, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said. While the government anticipated that a vaccine would be available for the public in the second half of next year, the economy may remain sluggish until then, Sri said on Wednesday (September 2).

Bringing COVID-19 under control, as well as the recovery of the global economy and structural reforms to attract investment and fiscal support, are among the important factors that will impact the economy next year. Given these challenges, the government expects the economy to grow 4.5%-5.5% next year.

National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas) Minister Suharso Monoarfa stated that the pandemic would also cause mass layoffs and see millions fall into poverty, increasing the country’s level of inequality.

The government estimated that the open unemployment rate will increase to around 8.1%-9.2%, while the poverty rate could surge to around 9.7%-10.2%. Indonesia’s Gini ratio is also expected to increase to 0.379-0.381 from 0.375-0.380.

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