Indonesia health officials blame India’s first Delta version for a massive wave of COVID-19s, which has tripled the number of new cases a day in recent weeks, but some infectious disease experts say the real causes are closer to home. :
“The spread of this virus is very fast,” Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told an online seminar on Sunday, adding that he had acquired the virus in Indonesia through his ports.
“Because many seaports in Indonesia carry goods, many come from India, they go there,” he said.
But experts who interviewed Al aze Azira say Delta version was not the primary issue.
They say that the wave is the result of the last trip of Ramadan. When many people ignored the ban on visiting their hometown, the lack of a unified health policy, combined with confusing messages, the privatization of test regimes “ineffective”. ,
Although travel at ferry terminals was restricted at local airports from April 22 to May 24, the government estimates that between five and six million people were evacuated during the holiday season between Indonesia’s two most populous cities, Java and Sumatra.
“All versions of COVID are worrisome, but the Delta version has not been shown to be more deadly,” said Gusti Ngura Mahardika, a professor at Udayana University and Bali’s oldest virologist. “It only gets a silver medal. The champion in Indonesia is still the Alpha version. “I think the Delta version is being used as a scapegoat because of the government’s inability to control the epidemic.”
Focus on the economy
Health officials reported 12,624 cases on Thursday, the highest daily increase since February, bringing Indonesia’s total to nearly two million.
Mahardika says it is almost impossible to pinpoint the cause of the wave, as the level of infection is “so low” that health data in Indonesia “cannot be referenced”, but he cited a number of possible causes.
“Travelers played a role during Ramadan, there is no question about that,” he said. “But we are an unorganized country, the main focus is on the economy, people feel EXACTLY exhausted, tired. In the capital (Bali), where I live in Denpasar, cafes and restaurants are full every night. ”
Ahmad Utomo, an akarta-based molecular biological consultant specializing in the diagnosis of lung infections, agreed that the Delta version is being used to promote an atmosphere of mismanagement of the epidemic.
“I absolutely agree with that. “Whatever the case, human activity is needed to reproduce it,” he said. “Indonesia is doing a good job of tracing the genome, which they know is the Delta version here.
“But the Delta version,” Utomo explained, “looks like a sports car.” It can go very fast. “But even a sports car can only go as fast as you give way. You have to use human mobility to slow it down.”
Utomo said too many people are not complying with health protocols, travel bans, and the government is making it worse by not being able to invest in testing and tracking.
“When people want to travel to Indonesia by ferry or plane, they have to pay for the test, so a huge industry has been born to demand,” he said. “But there is no money to trace, so it is simply ignored.”
“It will be very bad”
Dr. Dickie Budiman, an epidemiologist who has helped shape the Indonesian Ministry of Health’s epidemic management strategy for 20 years, says that although the Delta version is more contagious than the Alpha version, it is driving the current outbreak.
“Currently the distribution of the Delta version is very small, while the Alpha version is distributed by members of the community who did not comply with the travel ban,” he told Al Jazeera. “I agree that the Delta version is used as a scapegoat. “We have had an epidemic for more than a year, but the government has proved unable to control COVID-19.”
Although the Alpha version could still be dominant, Buduman warned that mastering the Delta strain is a matter of time.
He feared that Indonesia could soon face an epidemic in India.
“The Delta version will lead to infections next month,” he said. “I predict that there will be a huge congestion in the community in July, with rising mortality in the rising waters, as 40% of Indonesia’s population lives on the island, and that density puts them in a very dangerous situation,” he said.
“If you ask me how bad things will be, well, it will be much worse when there is a higher mortality rate, because from what happened in India we see that the example is very clear. The Delta version has a much stronger impact on those countries that do not have enough social distance, wearing masks, testing, tracing, and vaccinations. ”
As only 1% of positive cases in Indonesia have undergone genome deletion, there is no definitive data showing the proportion of infections attributed to certain variants.
Dr. Nadia Viveko, spokeswoman for the COVID-19 Vaccine Ministry of Health, acknowledged that travel had played a role in the accelerating outbreak.
“There has been an increase in cases due to the mobility of communities since Ramadan,” Al-Wi Azira Wiweko said. “We used to have 3,000 cases a day, but now we go beyond 9,000.”
“It is not too late”
Developed countries have been able to contain the epidemic with mass vaccination programs, providing effective և communication trajectory testing.
Indonesia, which was in the final stages of testing for China’s Sinovac leak, launched its campaign in January but has only managed to fully vaccinate 4.3 percent of its population.
Since the first epidemic began last year, the government has been worried about the economy because it is worried that it will not be able to provide social security to its 270 million people, let alone food packages. About 10 percent of Indonesia lives below the poverty line.
Wiweko said the government is currently considering a micro-blocking strategy to target high-risk areas.
“We have issued regulations to limit the activities of communities to the extent that they come into force in all marzes and urban areas. This is like: [large-scale social restrictions] but adapted to local conditions, “he said.
Wiweko said the strategy included targeted isolation – treatment, work from home regulations – limited shopping hours. The research is also improving, from 20 to 10 traces for each positive case, 20-30, he added.
“We know people are worried,” he said, “but it is not too late to prevent the culmination.”
But Budiman warns that micro-blocking will be ineffective.
“They are still very much focused on the economic consequences, but sooner or later they will have to reconsider their response, as the experience of many other countries shows only a general blockade, combined with testing and investigation, followed by isolation and quarantine with mass vaccination. : “The programs are effective in containing the Delta version,” he said.
Utomo expressed similar feelings. They have to be persistent in their strategy. ”
Even with the escalation, Indonesia is still talking about foreign visitors returning to places as famous as Bali in July, which welcomed 10 million foreigners in 2019, the year before the epidemic began, to start the island’s economy.
“The Lancet has published an article stating that the only way to fight outbreaks is not to mitigate, but to mitigate,” Utomo said.
“Our leaders need to break the curve, not worry if people vote for them in the election. “Otherwise, we will never get out of this epidemic.”