The Jakarta Post
Health and transportation experts have said that reimposing large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in Jakarta will be pointless if such restrictions are not well implemented in other areas, given that mobility across regions remains high.
Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has pulled “the emergency brake” by reinstating the PSBB starting Monday, thereby putting an end to what was to be a transition period leading the country to a “new normal”. The transition period entailed a gradual easing of the coronavirus restrictions.
The decision was made after considering several factors, including the growing number of active cases in Jakarta, high demand of hospital beds and the increasing number of deaths among patients confirmed to or suspected to have contracted the coronavirus.
Dicky Budiman, an Indonesian epidemiologist at Australia’s Griffith University, said Anies’ decision was bold and based on data, and he called on other administrations across Java to all impose the PSBB in order to see effective results.
“Other areas in Java must do what is being done in Jakarta, especially those with an immense burden on healthcare [systems] and a high number of deaths,” Dicky told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
However, Dicky said, reimposing the PSBB did not mean that Jakarta should be more relaxed about contact tracing and testing, despite more people, especially nonessential workers, staying at home.
“With the PSBB, we must set a target to achieve a positivity rate of 5 percent or below, meaning that contact tracing and testing must be increased continuously in order to prevent more transmissions,” Dicky said.
Masdalina Pane of the Indonesian Epidemiologists Association (PAEI) also said that the PSBB should be carried out throughout Java, which accounted for 60 to 65 percent of the total confirmed cases in Indonesia.
She also acknowledged that people’s mobility on the island was “not constrained”, meaning that, if the PSBB was only enforced in Jakarta, the spread of the coronavirus would continue like in a “ping-pong” game.
“People are now preparing to return to their home areas across Java, which, based on past experience, would increase infections in those areas. Then, once Jakarta reopens, they come back and cases in Jakarta increase. The transmission will not be stopped,” she said.
Djoko Setijowarno of the Indonesian Transportation Society (MTI) said Greater Jakarta-based intercity and interprovincial (AKAP) buses, provincial shuttle (AJAP) buses as well as travel buses must follow the health protocol applied for planes and trains.
“The terminals are the control center for buses and passengers. The government should help disinfect buses and conduct free rapid tests at the terminals,” Djoko said.
Djoko argued that supervision of the implementation of health protocol in public transportation, especially online motorcycle taxis, online taxis and angkot (public minivans), must be tightened.