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Highlight in the media today: Indonesia loses precious medical workers, Bogor city improves from red zone to orange, Public Works and Housing Ministry seeks 42% increase in budget.

As of September 8 16:32 (GMT+7), Indonesia had confirmed 200,035 COVID-19 cases, with 142,958 recoveries and 8,230 deaths.

Indonesia was losing its precious medical workers to the pandemic. According to the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI), 107 doctors had died of COVID-19 as of Monday (September 7), alongside eight dentists and 70 nurses as of early September.

Thousands more were thought to have caught the virus. The disease is not just hitting older doctors but also younger ones who were just beginning their careers. Even doctors in their residencies were facing the risks of catching the diseases. At least two final-year residents have died of the virus.

According to data from the National Development Planning Agency (Bappenas), with a population of some 271 million people, Indonesia had only 0.13 specialist doctors per 1,000 people, fewer than half the government’s target of 0.28 per 1,000 people. The figure for general practitioners was at 0.52 per 1,000 people, fewer than half the ideal target of 1.12.

Bogor city in West Java has managed to improve its status from red zone to orange by imposing curfews. Bogor Deputy Mayor Dedie A. Rachim said on Monday that the city has met at least 15 indicators that warranted it to be declared as being now in the orange zone, including hospital bed occupancy rate, patient’s recovery rate, and a cumulative effective reproduction number (Rt) of 2.1.

However, Dedie reminded people to stay cautious as infection risk still persisted. According  to Bogor Health Office data, the city was still recording new cases.

On Sunday (September 6), the daily number dropped to 12 cases, but spiked again to 22 cases on Monday, bringing the total number of infection cases to 756. Currently, 56 out of the city’s 68 urban wards (82.25%)  were red zones.

Meanwhile, Tarumanagara University (Untar) Center for Metropolitan Studies (Centropolis) data showed that as of September 6, 85 urban wards in Jakarta had escalated to black zones as more than 100 confirmed cases were found in those areas.

The Public Works and Housing Ministry is seeking a budget of Rp149.8 trillion for 2021—a 42.7% increase from this year’s allocation—to fund infrastructure projects to support the nation’s economic recovery.

Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said on Thursday (September 3) that the ministry would focus on six priority programs next year: food security, connectivity development, public health development, attracting investment in strategic regions, providing a social safety net through labor-intensive projects, and disaster mitigation enhancement.

Of the Rp149.8 trillion budget allocated for 2021, Rp18.4 trillion would be for the labor-intensive cash-for-work (PKT) program. The ministry allocated Rp11.5 trillion for the PKT portion of the program and Rp654 billion for the labor-intensive work portion this year, providing jobs for an estimated 680,000 workers amid a wave of unemployment in times of pandemic.

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