May 2, 2023
JAKARTA – Daily COVID-19 confirmed cases reached over 2,000 on Friday, in a rise of new cases soon after Idul Fitri as mudik (exodus) travelers return to cities and amid the looming threat of the new Arcturus strain.
On Friday noon, the government recorded 2,067 new daily confirmed cases, bringing the total tally of confirmed COVID-19 cases to 6,771,072 since the first case was confirmed on March 2, 2020.
The number of new confirmed cases on Friday was part of an increasing trend after Idul Fitri. On April 23, a day after Idul Fitri, a low number of confirmed cases was recorded at just 384 but this has continued to rise since then.
Daily confirmed cases surpassed 1,000 cases on April 14, while the last time the country reported more than 1,000 cases was four months ago on Dec. 22, 2022.
Health Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Syahril said the recent uptick in cases was not yet dangerous or significant as the current mortality rate and hospital bed occupancy rates from COVID-19 in Indonesia were still below World Health Organization standards.
“There is no need for the public to panic, but we must still be alert especially as this uptick of cases could have been among the elderly and those with comorbidities,” Syahril told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
He also said that globally, COVID-19 was still a pandemic, so new variants causing a rise in cases were still possible.
The government has also been on the alert to the new Arcturus (XBB.1.16), a subvariant of Omicron, by introducing the Indovac vaccine as an option aside from AstraZeneca for a second booster shot for those with Pfizer primary vaccination.
“To control the pandemic, the government is introducing new booster vaccines to improve the protection of the people against COVID-19, especially for the vulnerable population,” Syahril said in an earlier statement on Friday.
He also urged people to get their booster vaccination shots and to implement health protocols such as wearing masks when sick or after close contact with the sick and when within crowds.
“Remember to get a booster shot and test for COVID-19 when feeling unwell and to self-isolate if tested positive. Also use telemedicine services the government has provided,”
“This is our task together, don’t get infected and don’t spread the virus to other people,” Syahril said.
Griffith University epidemiologist Dicky Budiman said there was the potential of an uptick in confirmed cases that could be seen within two to three weeks due to the holiday return flow and the XBB.1.16 strain.
He said the uptick would likely not be as severe as it was in the first two years of the pandemic.
However, he pointed out that there were still some population groups that remained at risk from COVID-19, such as children below the age of three, the elderly and those with comorbidities.
He suggested that booster shots, especially for the vulnerable, should be encouraged even more, and during mudik mask-wearing should have been made mandatory to prevent an increase in cases.
“Masks are proven to be effective, easy and cheap [to prevent the spread of COVID-19],” Dicky told the Post on Saturday.
He added that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo urging people to postpone their return journey and to work remotely was the correct move as it could help mitigate the potential uptick of cases especially among the vulnerable groups.