While other regions have claimed that large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) have helped flatten the COVID-19 infection curve, East Java health authorities say the policy has yet to flatten the curve in the provincial capital of Surabaya.
East Java COVID-19 task force curative management head Joni Wahyuhadi said the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases had continued to rise in Surabaya and its neighboring regencies of Sidoarjo and Gresik, despite the imposition of PSBB in the regions since April 28.
Ten days after the policy was implemented, Surabaya and its satellite areas recorded that the number of confirmed cases had increased by 53.7 percent from 508 to 781. Surabaya has become the disease epicenter in the province with 592 confirmed cases and 78 fatalities as of Thursday.
The fatality rate in the area also remains high as it currently stands above 10 percent of total confirmed cases. The Health Ministry recorded 1,267 confirmed cases and 133 deaths in East Java on Thursday.
“Our evaluation from the epidemiological approach shows that the contact index and transmission rate have remained high,” Joni told journalists on Thursday evening.
He added that the task force believed the policy had failed to flatten the curve due to low public obedience to health protocols, such as maintaining physical distance and wearing face masks.
Joni recommended PSBB be enforced in a stricter manner in the following days.
Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa said earlier that her administration would likely extend the PSBB for another 14 days if the policy had not succeeded in curbing COVID-19 transmission.
Apart from the increasing cases, health authorities have also discovered new clusters of virus transmission in the area, including in a factory owned by tobacco giant PT HM Sampoerna in Surabaya, where two workers died and 60 others were infected by the virus.
The East Java COVID-19 task force has been working to track and test more people in the cluster to prevent further spread.
The provincial task force is scrambling to establish emergency hospitals in Greater Surabaya as COVID-19 referral centers are overcrowded.
According to data from health authorities, there are 403 beds at COVID-19 referral centers in Surabaya to handle 869 patients who need intensive care. In Sidoarjo, only 160 beds are available for 212 COVID-19 patients; while Gresik has 24 beds for 117 patients. (kuk)