WORLD Indonesia considers extending mobile restrictions as COVID-19 cases climb


Indonesia considers extending mobile restrictions as COVID-19 cases climb


18:01, July 18, 2021

Indonesia is evaluating whether to end COVID-19 restrictions on movement as planned or extend them, as the country battles with a surge of new infections and a crumbling economy, senior minister Luhut Pandjaitan said on Saturday.

Locals wearing protective masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease stand in line as they receive assistance given by Indonesian President in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 16, 2021. /Reuters via CGTN

The curbs on movement, which include the closure of shopping malls and a work-from-home order for non-essential workers, on the islands of Java, Bali and 15 other cities across the archipelago, are set to end on July 20.

"Decreased mobility does not indicate a decrease in cases. We are evaluating ... whether further extension is needed," Panjaitan, the country's minister of maritime and investment affairs, told a virtual press conference, adding that the government will announce its decision in a few days.

Indonesia has reported more new coronavirus cases than any country in the world, data from the latest seven-day average from a Reuters tracker showed. It was second only to Brazil in the number of deaths.

On Saturday, it recorded 51,952 new cases and 1,092 new deaths. On Friday, it reported some 54,000 new COVID-19 infections and over 1,205 deaths, and the authorities said it's largely to do with the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant.

The vaccination rate is low at six percent of Indonesia's 270 million population.

The country's finance minister Sri Mulyani told the conference that Indonesia will expand its COVID-19 recovery budget to 744.74 trillion rupiah ($51.38 billion) from 699.43 trillion rupiah.

As Indonesia repeatedly reported record infections and COVID-19 deaths in recent weeks, health experts are calling the country Asia's new COVID-19 epicenter, overtaking India.

Health services in the country are overwhelmed, and requests to help people find hospital beds or oxygen tanks have been shared on social media, while reports of those who died trying have risen.

(With input from Reuters)

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