Thursday, September 24, 2020

Safeguarding COVID-19 frontliners as cases spike by Fardah

 Jakarta, Sept 25, 2020 (ANTARA) - Several countries across the globe, such as Britain, India, the US, South Korea, Russia, and Indonesia, have re-imposed stringent health protocols to curb a spike in coronavirus cases.

In Indonesian capital Jakarta, which has recorded the highest number of infections in the country, the Wisma Atlet Emergency Hospital (RSD) has opened up Towers 4 and 5 to accommodate the growing number of asymptomatic patients requiring self-isolation.

The hospital was earlier operating just Towers 6 and 7. These towers are being used to accommodate patients with mild to moderate symptoms, coordinator of the COVID-19 emergency hospital, Major General Dr. Tugas Ratmono, noted recently.

As of September 21, 2020, the bed occupancy at Towers 6 and 7 had reached 80 percent. Meanwhile, the bed occupancy at Tower 5 had touched 90 percent.



The recent spike in coronavirus infections has spelt difficulties for the national economy, citizens, as well as healthcare workers who have been battling the virus since March 2 this year, when the country reported its first infections.

 

Frontline workers are toiling day and night in highly uncomfortable personal protective equipment (PPEs), fighting off exhaustion even as they risk exposure to the virus.


At least 117 Indonesian doctors have succumbed to the disease as per data accessed on September 17, 2020. As of August 30 this year, 70 nurses have succumbed to the virus, and about 800 pharmacists nationwide have so far been exposed to COVID-19.

With COVID-19 vaccines still under development, strict health protocols such as wearing masks, maintaining social distancing, and washing hands with soap, remain the only effective means to prevent coronavirus spread. However, a significant number of people have shown reluctance to wearing masks or staying at home.

Thursday, September 17, 2020

PILKADA AMID PANDEMIC POSES A DILEMMA by Fardah

Jakarta, 18/9/2020 (ANTARA) - One by one, electoral officers who have been busy preparing for the 2020 simultaneous regional head elections (Pilkada) amid the coronavirus pandemic and candidates contesting the polls have tested positive for COVID-19.

Officers from the central and local offices of the General Election Commission (KPU) as well as the Election Supervisory Board (Bawaslu) have contracted the virus, while the KPU headquarters in Jakarta has issued a work-from-home guidance.

The novel coronavirus disease has infected more than 30 million people in 213 countries and territories across the globe, and claimed more than 940 thousand lives since the first cases emerged in Wuhan, China, late last year.

In Indonesia, the total confirmed case tally has reached 236,519 and the death toll has touched 9,336 since the country announced its first COVID-19 infections on March 2, 2020.

The government is determined to hold the Pilkada in 270 regions, or nearly half of its territories, on December 9, 2020, despite a record spike in COVID-19 infections lately, with daily cases reaching nearly four thousand over the last one week.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has frequently lent considerable weightage to no compromises being made in implementing the COVID-19 health protocols during each stage of the local elections, saying public health remains an unwavering priority.

"I need to once again reaffirm that the health of the people is everything, which means there would be no compromises in the implementation of health protocols," the President said on September 8, 2020.

He highlighted the criticality of implementing health protocols in the wake of continued and gross health protocol violations by prospective candidate pairs, including holding of concerts during the participation declarations, adding that such actions cannot be tolerated.

As many as 734 nominee pairs have registered as candidate pairs for the 2020 Pilkada, which will be held simultaneously in nine provinces, 224 districts, and 37 cities.

The campaign period will last from September 26 to December 5, 2020, or 71 days. Initially, voting was scheduled to take place on September 23, 2020. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, voting day has been postponed to December 9, 2020. As many as 109,569,111 eligible voters are expected to turn out on polling day.

Monday, September 14, 2020

INDONESIA FAST TRACKS COVID-19 VACCINE DEVELOPMENT by Fardah

 

Jakarta, 15/9/2020 (ANTARA) - Almost every country in the world, including Indonesia, is racing against time to develop a vaccine of its own or obtain imported vaccines to defeat COVID-19, which has triggered a global economic and health crisis.

Indonesia is keen to get a vaccine at the earliest, therefore, President Joko Widodo has reportedly directed the research team at the Faculty of Medicine at Padjadjaran University to speed up the clinical trials of China-based Sinovacs COVID-19 vaccine.

The researchers have been asked to make the vaccine available in three months, instead of six months, in accordance with standard procedures.

The directive from Mr. President is to make efforts to speed up the availability of this corona vaccine, if possible, within three months, Kusnandi Rusmil, the research teams leader and concurrently the coordinator of the COVID-19 vaccine clinical trial, told the press following a meeting with President Jokowi at the Presidential Palace on July 21, 2020.

However, Kusnandi said, it would be impossible to expedite the clinical trial and complete it in three months as the research team has to work very carefully and properly while carrying out the testing, which is expected to be completed in January, 2021.

President Jokowi is known for working fast and he has often asked his subordinates to expedite work. He has often reiterated that global competition is now not between big countries and small ones, or rich countries and poor ones, saying countries that work fast will defeat slow ones.

Perhaps for this reason, he has established several teams for expediting his programs, such as the Implementation Team of the Committee for Acceleration of Priority Infrastructure Delivery (KPPIP) in 2016.

After the countrys first confirmed COVID-19 cases were announced on March 2, 2020, the President set up a Task Force for the Acceleration of COVID-19 Handling on March 14, 2020.

On September 8, 2020, the government set up a National Team for the Acceleration of COVID-19 Vaccine Development and installed Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, as the head of its steering team.

The structure of the National Team for the Acceleration of COVID-19 Vaccine Development has been stipulated in Presidential Decree Number 18 of 2020, dated September 3, 2020. The team will function until December 31, 2021, according to Wiku Adisasmito, spokesperson for the COVID-19 task force.

"All components (of the team) must be able to work and synergize the time, that is not long, and they really must complete the task by the end of 2021," he added.

Members of the steering team include Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture, Muhadjir Effendy, and Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs, Mahfud MD.


Meanwhile, Minister for Research and Technology and head of the National Research and Innovation Agency, Bambang Brodjonegoro, has been tasked with leading the persons in charge in the team, with Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto serving as Deputy Chair I and State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir as Deputy Chairman II.

Members of the team include Minister of Foreign Affairs, Retno Marsudi, Minister of Industry, Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita, Minister of Trade, Agus Suparmanto, Minister of Education and Culture, Nadiem Makarim, and head of the Food and Drug Administration, Penny Kusumastuti Lukito.


The team has four objectives, namely, to accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines in Indonesia; to bring about national resilience and self-reliance in developing COVID-19 vaccines; to intensify synergy in terms of research, development, assessment, and application of science knowledge and technology, as well as invention and innovation, production, distribution, and use or utilization of COVID-19 vaccines between the government and science and technology institutions, as well as science and technology resources in the development of the COVID-19 vaccines; and, to carry out preparations, work towards utilization, and capacity building, as well as boost national capacity for the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Currently, Indonesia is seeking to obtain the vaccine through two ways: by developing an indigenous vaccine named after the national flag, the Red and White, and importing vaccines in cooperation with foreign countries or institutions.

Jokowi has urged the Red and White Vaccine Team to work at a swift pace to develop the COVID-19 vaccine, for which research is currently underway.

The Eijkman Institute is developing the Red and White Vaccine using a recombinant protein platform. The development process for the vaccine seeds in the laboratory is 50-percent complete.

The target is to complete testing the vaccine on animals by the end of this year, according to Bambang Brodjonegoro, who chairs a team in charge of developing the Red and White vaccine.

"Thus, early next year, around January, the Eijkman Institute can hand over the vaccine seeds to PT Bio Farma for production formulation in the context of clinical trials, comprising clinical trials phase 1, 2, and 3," he remarked.

After the clinical trials conclude and the Food and Drug Administration declares the vaccine safe for use and suitable for strengthening the body's resistance to COVID-19, Bio Farma will begin mass production of the vaccines.

Friday, September 11, 2020

In push for mass immunization, frontline warriors prioritized by Fardah

Jakarta, Sept 12, 2020 (ANTARA) - As many as 111 doctors, including specialists, have succumbed to the novel coronavirus as of September 11, 2020 in the country while battling on the frontlines against the virus that has affected over 200 thousand Indonesians.


Frontline doctors and paramedics have time and again demonstrated their dedication, professionalism, and hard work in fighting the invisible enemy and saving lives ever since the government announced the country's first COVID-19 cases on March 2, 2020.


President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has extended his condolences to the families of the fallen heroes and lauded their hard work and diligence in fighting COVID-19 infections, which have far from flattened so far.


The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases has continued to increase in several regions in the country, leading to many hospitals filling up and healthcare workers working incessantly. 


To cut the chain of the virus spread, Jokowi has urged Indonesians to be disciplined in observing health protocols, particularly, wearing masks, washing hands with soap, and maintaining physical distancing, to ensure hospitals and paramedics do not get overwhelmed by the spike in COVID-19 cases.

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

"Fiesta of democracy" requires "no compromise" approach to public health

Indonesia, the world's third largest democracy after the US and India, is once again gearing to hold simultaneous regional head elections (Pilkada) in 270 regions, or nearly half of its territories, on December 9 this year.

Elections are viewed as a "fiesta of democracy" in the country with a population of over 270 million people. Election preparations are usually hectic and the people enjoy the hustle bustle of campaigning, interspersed with parades and musical performances by local artists.

The first simultaneous local elections were held in 2015, and again in 2017 and 2018. All of them were conducted relatively smoothly and peacefully.

But, this year, the simultaneous Pilkada will be different owing to the COVID-19 pandemic that has already claimed 8,336 lives and infected 203,342 people since the government announced the first confirmed cases on March 2, 2020.

As the Pilkada implementation process begins and the dates for the campaigning period draw closer, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country has shown an increase.

In fact, the novel coronavirus disease has become a real threat to local elections as the virus has infected several local election officers despite the implementation of health protocols.

In East Barito District, Central Kalimantan, the head of the local election supervisory office (Bawaslu), identified as F (37), and a member of the the local election office (KPU), identified as Z (44), have tested positive for COVID-19 for the second time.

In Papua, a member of the local KPU has contracted the virus. In Boyolali, Central Java, 69 KPU officers have been infected with COVID-19.

Several prospective candidate pairs participating in the elections in various regions have also reportedly been infected with COVID-19.

Friday, August 28, 2020

NEW YOGYAKARTA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT ENVISIONED TO BOOST TOURISM b Fardah

 

Jakarta, 29/8/2020 (ANTARA) - Yogyakarta, a Javanese sultanate and special autonomous province located in the central of Java Island, currently has a new and modern Yogyakarta International Airport (YIA) that is 13 times bigger than its old Adisucipto Airport.


While inaugurating the new airport on Aug 28, 2020, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) claimed that the construction of YIA, which took just 20 months and cost Rp11.3 trillion (some US$777.4 million), is the best construction practice, so far, in Indonesia.


The new airport has a 3,250-meter runway, longer than the old Adisucipto Airport's runway measuring 2,200 meters. Wide-bodied aircraft, such as Airbus A330 and Boeing 777, can land at the new airport. It has a 219 thousand square-meter terminal, compared to 17 thousand square meters at the old airport's terminal. It has a capacity to accommodate 20 million passengers yearly, as compared to 1.6 million yearly at the old airport.


Jokowi is upbeat about the YAI being crowded once the COVID-19 pandemic is brought under control.

"We know that we are still facing the COVID-19 pandemic. However, once we have the vaccination, Insya Allah (God willing), I believe that the airport can become the busiest. That is important," he affirmed.

Located in Kulon Progo District, Yogyakarta Province, the new airport is some 60 kilometers away from the worlds most popular Buddhist temple, Borobudur, designated by the Indonesian government as one of Indonesia's five super-priority tourist destinations.


Minister of Transportation Budi Karya Sumadi is optimistic that the YAI would attract domestic and foreign tourists, thereby helping aid economic recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic.