Moreover, this decline in confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia also translates to a drop in COVID-19-related hospitalizations across the country. This is very positive because the combination of relatively few new infections and relatively few people requiring medical assistance allows the Indonesian government to ease the social and business restrictions (Pemberlakuan Pembatasan Kegiatan Masyarakat, PPKM). This, in turn, encourages an acceleration in economic activity.

Last month, we quoted Indonesian President Joko Widodo when he stated that the national bed occupancy rate (abbreviated as BOR) of Indonesian hospitals had fallen below 30 percent, a ridiculously low number considering the national BOR averages around 65 percent in normal circumstances. The trick is that Indonesia managed to expand capacity in hospitals in a significant manner. In July 2021 Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said that the number of beds in Indonesian hospitals totalled 430,000 units. If we go back to the start of 2019 then we see that Indonesia only had 310,700 hospital beds (almost 40 percent less than there are now).

If we take a look at the capital city of Jakarta – once a hotbed in the pandemic – then the average BOR of the 140 COVID-19 reference hospitals has fallen to 8 percent by late-September 2021, based on a statement from Jakarta Deputy Governor Ahmad Riza Patria. He further added that ‘only’ 19 percent of the 992 intensive care units (ICUs) in Jakarta remain occupied by COVID-19 patients.

So, in response to these developments, the central government did decide again to extend the PPKM restrictions. But interestingly enough there are no more provinces or regions that carry the PPKM Level 4 label on Java and Bali. As we explained before, the Indonesian government introduced four levels of PPKM measures, mainly based on the number of new COVID-19 cases and deaths in a particular region as well as the occupancy rates in local hospitals in that region. PPKM Level 4 is the toughest category, hence implies the tightest restrictions. While we saw many regions across the islands of Java and Bali being placed in this tight PPKM Level 4 category since the start of the system, there are currently no more PPKM Level 4 regions by the end of September 2021 on these two densely-populated islands.


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