As the world is entering the third year of the coronavirus pandemic, researchers and scientists worldwide are continuously working to gather more information about the virus and its rapidly evolving variants. Social distancing, masking, sanitizing has become the new norms of society. Different countries worldwide are utilizing newer and newer restrictions and coping techniques to stop the spread of the disease.
Increasing Number Of Omicron Variant Cases In Indonesia
Indonesia is one such country that had seen its worst last year during the coronavirus delta surge with flooded hospital beds and intensive care units and lack of oxygen tanks. Data suggests only 61% of the Indonesian population is fully vaccinated, in capital Jakarta alone, more than 80% have been vaccinated. The rising omicron cases in the country are again causing primary concern, despite allocating more COVID-19 beds, more testing, and tracing techniques.
As for safety precautions, President Joko Widodo has requested patients to access telemedicine services to consult doctors and get medicines for free. He further added that if asymptomatic or less symptomatic patients can self-isolate in their home settings, hospitals, and community health centers can concentrate on the patients with moderate to severe symptoms.
The country was about to get back to normal after the devastation caused by the Delta variant, but unfortunately, the Omicron has started spreading rapidly. The peak of infection is expected by February or the beginning of March 2022 by the country’s Health Ministry.
To curb the spread of new variants, the Indonesian government has taken several measures like arranging for more beds to accommodate all Covid affected patients and increasing the tracing system of Covid affected patients and their primary contacts. The testing mechanism has been increased along with the vaccination drive. The effectiveness of the government measures is doubted due to their liberal approach to implementing them. The rapid spread is evident that the bed occupancy in Jakarta has plunged from 5% to 45% within a few weeks. Jakarta Deputy Governor Ahmad Riza Patria has stated that the pandemic spread so fast that despite 80% of the vaccinated population staying in Jakarta, most hospital beds are getting occupied.
Doctors believe that the people of Indonesia are still living with the trauma of Delta when many people died in home isolation or while waiting to get proper medical treatment. During the surge of the 2nd wave, various hospitals made temporary arrangements in the form of tents in the hospital premises for covid affected patients before they could be allocated beds in the patient-packed hospital. The availability of oxygen cylinders was like a lucky draw for the people, with few patients getting as soon as required and few patients being asked to arrange by themselves.
The Indonesian government has also extended the restriction to travel outside Java and Bali till 14 Feb 2022 to reduce the spread of infection. Viewing the less infectious nature of Omicron, the government of Indonesia has decided to change their strategy of working with reported cases, instead will target to reduce the hospitalization counts.
Dr. Dicky Budiman from Griffith University has suggested the government not to open schools till Mar 2022 for face-to-face learning. The school opening will create more Covid cases among children due to lesser social distancing and non-compliance to various Covid protocols.
Due to the widespread use of Omicron, the Indonesian government has decided to distribute Covid-19 booster doses to stop the birth of new cases of Omicron. The booster dose is meant for people who have taken both doses six months back. The government changed from its earlier stand of giving booster dose only to persons who can afford it and decided to provide it to all its citizens free of cost.