Update COVID-19 in Indonesia: 1,769,940 confirmed infections, 49,205 deaths (22 May 2021)
7 June 2021 (closed)
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We detected a very positive development over the past two months. The number of new confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia continued to decline heavily, a trend that began at the very start of February 2021. While on 1 February 2021, a total of 10,994 new COVID-19 infections were found, this number has almost halved as we enter April 2021 (see the chart below).
This trend is also confirmed by data taken from the Wisma Atlet apartment complex in Central Jakarta. This complex, which was turned into an emergency hospital early in 2020, has almost 6,000 beds available to treat COVID-19 patients. While in late-February 2021 the occupancy rate of Wisma Atlet was slightly over 80 percent, the rate had declined to 38.3 percent in late-March 2021. However, based on anecdotal evidence, ‘conventional hospitals’ in Indonesia do not see such a drastic decrease in COVID-19 patients. An explanation could be that hospitals have limited capacity to treat patients (contrary to the thousands of beds that are available at Wisma Atlet), so they are easily flooded with patients. Moreover, hospitals only accept people who are in immediate need of medical attention, while Wisma Atlet is primarily used as a place of self-isolation for those who received a positive test result. So, the fact that pressure on hospitals is not easing, does not mean that the pandemic has not eased in Indonesia in the past two months.
New Confirmed COVID-19 Cases per Day in Indonesia (up to 5 April 2021):
Moreover, data from Indonesia’s Health Ministry show that in the last week of March 2021 a total of 458,160 COVID-19 tests were conducted in Indonesia, which is higher than the 446,690 tests done in the first week of February 2021 (when the pandemic seems to have peaked). However, the positivity rate fell markedly from 18.6 percent to 8.0 percent (over the same period). Meanwhile, there are no reports about certain changes in testing strategy (or policy) that could explain such a difference in the positive test results.
So, it all points to one conclusion: the COVID-19 pandemic is easing in Indonesia. But the tricky question is: why has the pandemic been easing in Indonesia since the start of February 2021? Unfortunately, medical experts simply do not know the answer. It certainly cannot be the national immunization program because this program only started two weeks prior to the easing trend. It can also not be the self-imposed social and business restrictions because these restrictions have barely changed over the past two, possibly even three, quarters. Explanations that seem more likely are the development of ‘natural herd immunity’ in society (as people – over the past year or so – have become infected, and thus build resistance) or, perhaps, certain changes in weather conditions are behind the new trend. However, there is no substantial or profound evidence for either of these explanations.
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