Friday, January 8, 2021

As COVID cases spike, govt clamps down on public movement by Fardah

Jakarta, Jan 8 (Antara) -  The Indonesian government has decided to tighten restrictions on the movement of people in Java and Bali from January 11-25, 2021, to curtail a spike in COVID-19 infections.

The country has seen a record rise in daily COVID-19 cases for two consecutive days — it recorded 9,321 cases on January 7, 2021 and 10,617 on January 8. This has brought the total case tally to 808,340. Meanwhile, total recoveries have touched 666,883, while the death toll has reached 23,753.

Several other countries have also declared fresh lockdown in cities such as London, Beijing, Tokyo, Quebec, and Bangkok, to curb coronavirus transmission.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Airlangga Hartarto, informed the press about the restrictions following a limited cabinet meeting on COVID-19 handling and immunization, led by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in Jakarta on January 6, 2021.

The restrictions will be fully tightened in Jakarta and its adjoining areas, including Bogor City, Bogor district, Depok, Bekasi City, and Bekasi’s districts, the minister affirmed.

In Banten province, restrictions will be tightened in Tangerang City, Tangerang district, South Tangerang, and Tangerang Raya.

In West Java province, stricter measures will be imposed in Bandung, West Bandung district, and Cimahi district, in addition to Bogor and Bekasi, which are suburban areas of Jakarta.

In Central Java, restrictions will be tightened in Semarang Raya, Solo Raya, and Banyumas Raya. The new measures will also be imposed in Gunung Kidul district, Sleman district, and Kulon Progo in Yogyakarta.

Tighter restrictions will be applied in Malang Raya and Surabaya Raya in East Java. Moreover, restrictions will be tightened in Denpasar City and Badung district in Bali.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

INDONESIA SET TO COMMENCE MASS VACCINATION; JOKOWI TO GET FIRST JAB

 

Jakarta, Jan 6 , 2021(Antara) -President Joko Widodo has picked January 14 and January 15, 2021 to launch the initial stage of Indonesia’s mass vaccination program against COVID-19. 

 

He has also decided to lead the immunization drive by receiving the country's first vaccine shot on January 13, 2021, in an event that will be broadcast live.

 

The Indonesian government will commence its vaccine program with President Widodo getting the first symbolic COVID-19 vaccine shot and the vaccination drive will continue on January 14 and 15 in several regions across the country, Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian announced on Tuesday.

 

The President volunteered to be the first to receive the vaccine to boost the public's confidence on its safety, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin explained.

 

The President will receive China's Sinovac vaccine a day or two after the Food and Drug Supervisory Agency (BPOM) issues an emergency-use authorization for the vaccine.

 

The Phase III clinical trials of the Sinovac vaccine are being conducted by the University of Padjajaran and state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma in Bandung, West Java, since August, 2020.

 

BPOM said the results of the Phase III clinical trials of the Sinovac vaccine will come out in the first week of January, 2021. The BPOM will also obtain data on clinical trials of the vaccine conducted in Brazil and Turkey in order to make a decision.

 

The agency has discovered two types of data indicating the Sinovac vaccine's safety, based on the results of clinical trials in the past couple of months.

 

The two types of data pertain to the vaccine’s immunogenicity and efficacy, BPOM spokesperson for COVID-19 vaccination, Lucia Rizka Andalusia, noted in a written statement released on Tuesday.

 

"This vaccine is quite safe. It has no serious side effects on its users," Andalusia noted during an Alinea Forum on ‘Halal and Security of COVID-19 Vaccine’.

Monday, January 4, 2021

Vaccine availability offers hope amid hike in COVID-19 cases by Fardah


 Jakarta, Jan 5, 2021 (ANTARA) - Some 1.8 million COVID-19 vaccine doses ordered from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd arrived on Dec 31 at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, Tangerang, Banten, with stocks reaching three million following 1.2 million doses delivered on Dec 6.

Another 15 million doses of bulk vaccines from Sinovac will arrive in the near future and will be manufactured by state-run vaccine manufacturer PT Bio Farma, Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi stated.

In addition to Sinovac, the government has been on the lookout for other sources of the vaccines.

"Indonesia has signed a commitment to supply 50 million doses of the vaccine from the US company Novavax that used the sub-recombinant protein platform and 50 million doses from British company AstraZeneca that used the viral factor platform," she remarked.

In fact, Indonesia had ordered the COVID-19 vaccine from various sources: 125 million doses from China's Sinovac Biotech Ltd; 100 million doses of US-Canada's Novavax; 100 million doses from British AstraZeneca; 100 million doses from Germany-US' Pfizer; and 16-100 million doses of free vaccine from Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization (GAVI) as part of a multilateral cooperation.

The Ministry of National Development Planning/National Development Planning Agency (PPN/Bappenas) has confirmed that Indonesia will receive some 370 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines manufactured by different pharma companies by 2022.

"The target for the vaccine (program) is (ensuring that) 181 million people achieve herd immunity and there are reserves, so that the number reaches over 370 million," Minister of National Development Planning, concurrently Head of Bappenas, Suharso Monoarfa stated.

Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto earlier revealed that the government had readied a budget of Rp73 trillion for the vaccine procurement.

While emergency-use authorization is still awaited from the Food and Drug Administration (BPOM) for Sinovac’s vaccine, the government has distributed the available Sinovac vaccine to regions reporting the highest COVID-19 transmission rates.

Padjajaran University and PT Bio Farma have conducted clinical tests to determine safe dosages and likely side-effects of the Sinovac vaccine since early August 2020.

Vaccine availability is crucial to boosting confidence and raising hopes amid a spike in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country, with a population of over 270 million.

As of Jan 4, 2021, as many as 22,911 Indonesians had succumbed to COVID-19, including over 500 healthcare workers, since the government announced its first confirmed cases on March 2, 2020.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Year ender - Indonesia stands firmly behind Blue Helmets by Fardah


 Jakarta , Dec 31, 2020 (ANTARA) - At the end of December, 2020, Indonesia completed its two-year term as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), which saw it assuming the Council's presidency twice.

Indonesia’s UN membership focused on the role of the Blue Helmets in helping maintain world peace.

Indonesia has been participating in UN peacekeeping missions since 1957 and remains committed to contributing to the organization's efforts to maintain peace in conflict-torn parts of the world.

"Indonesia's participation in the UN peacekeeping mission is the implementation of the mandate of the fourth paragraph of the preamble to the 1945 Constitution to create world order and is an integral part of its foreign policy and diplomacy," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi once said.

At present, the number of Indonesian personnel serving in various peacekeeping operations is 2,847, including 159 women (based on data as of 30 April, 2020). This number has put Indonesia 8th among 124 Troops/Police Contributing Countries (T/PCC).

The Garuda Contingent Personnel and Troops have been assigned to nine UN peacekeeping operations: UNIFIL (Lebanon), UNAMID (Darfur, Sudan), MINUSCA (Central African Republic), MONUSCO (Democratic Republic of Congo), MINUSMA (Mali), MINURSO (Western Sahara), UNMISS (South Sudan), UNISFA (Abyei, Sudan), and UNMHA (Yemen).

In 2019, Indonesia targeted to send up to four thousand personnel for various UN missions, but this year, the focus was no longer on quantity, but on the quality of personnel.

Besides, the number of peacekeeping forces globally has also been reduced due to funding difficulties at the UN, according to Grata Endah Werdaningtyas, director of the Foreign Ministry's International Security and Disarmament.

During its 2019-2020 term of the UNSC non-permanent membership, Indonesia assumed presidency in May, 2019 and August, 2020. The theme for the first stint was ‘Investing in Peace’ and the second ‘Advancing Sustainable Peace’.

Speaking at the ‘UNSC Open Debate on Investing in Peace: Improving Safety and Performance of UN Peacekeeping’ on May 7, 2019, Minister Marsudi had said that for decades, the Blue Helmets have been a distinct model of a global partnership, collective leadership, and shared responsibility for peace. However, with today's new political and security realities, the challenges facing the UN peacekeepers are enormous.

They are the guardians of peace, protecting millions around the globe, she said. Moreover, often overlooked, a peacekeeping mission is more efficient than unilateral actions, she added. The Blue Helmet is eight times less expensive than a unilateral mission, she continued.

Monday, December 28, 2020

Year ender - Indonesia takes cautious steps towards mass immunization by Fardah


 Jakarta, Dec 29, 2020 (ANTARA) - With still no emergency-use approval for Sinovac’s COVID-19 vaccine, it is becoming increasingly evident that the Indonesian government will have to wait until 2021 to kickstart its mass vaccination program.

Initially, the government had hoped to begin the vaccination program in the third week of December, 2020, with healthcare workers and legal enforcers getting first priority.

The government, however, is still waiting for the Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) to issue an emergency-use authorization (EUA) for Sinovac's CoronaVax vaccine. 

The delay has been attributed to precautionary measures that are crucial to ensure the vaccine’s safety.

In a recently released on YouTube video, BPOM head Penny Kusumastuti Lukito said the agency is currently observing Sinovac's CoronaVax vaccine, and expects the interim results from the trials of the vaccine in January, 2021.

The observation period for confirming the vaccine's effectiveness usually takes one, three, and six months, hence the EUA cannot be released soon, she explained.

She, however, said Sinovac’s vaccine has met the quality standards for producing medicines.

“There are no critical side effects,” she said of the vaccine that has undergone final stage clinical trials in Bandung, West Java province. 

The trials were held in cooperation with Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac, its Indonesian partner Bio Farma, and the University of Pandjadjaran.

The third phase clinical trials of Sinovac's vaccine in Bandung began on August 11, 2020 with 1,620 volunteers and so far, they have run smoothly.


Indonesia's COVID-19 vaccine inspection team, which comprises the BPOM, the Health Ministry, the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI), and representatives of Bio Farma, had flown to China on October 14, 2020 to inspect the quality and halal status of the Sinovac and Cansino vaccine candidates.

The BPOM, however, is waiting to check the vaccine’s efficacy, that is whether the vaccine improves antibodies and neutralizes the virus. 

The observational period for the vaccine includes a laboratory test of the subjects’ blood samples.

Friday, December 25, 2020

Year ender - UNSC stint highlights Indonesia's role as bridge-builder , consensus-maker by Fardah


 Jakarta, Dec 26, 2020 (ANTARA) - On December 31 this year, Indonesia will wrap up its stint as a non-permanent member of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC).

This is the fourth time Indonesia has occupied a non-permanent UNSC seat, after 1973-1974, 1995-1996, and 2007-2008.

Over the past two years, the country has held the UNSC presidency twice — in May, 2019 and August, 2020. The theme for the first stint was ‘Investing in Peace’ and the second ‘Advancing Sustainable Peace’, both reflecting the nation’s vision and role in the UNSC in promoting world peace.

The Foreign Ministry affirmed the country continues to strive to play a role as a bridge-builder, contribute to world peace amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and safeguard the principles of international law.

Such responsibility is in-line with the mandate of the 1945 Constitution to participate in a world order based on freedom, lasting peace, and social justice.

Despite the pandemic, under Indonesia’s second-term Presidency, the UNSC managed to carry out a total of 50 activities in both virtual and in-person formats, including 12 open meetings, 12 closed meetings, 5 additional agendas, and 12 UNSC Subsidiary Body meetings.

The Council also produced four resolutions, notably on extending the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in Lebanon (UNIFIL); extending the mandate of the peacekeeping mission in Somalia (UNSOM); extending the sanctions regime in Mali; and, on female peacekeeping personnel, initiated by Indonesia.

In fact, in the past two years, the United Nations endorsed five Indonesia-initiated resolutions at multilateral forums.

"At the initiative of Indonesia, five resolutions were adopted, both at the UN Security Council and the UN General Assembly," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said.

The resolutions are UNSC Resolution No. 2538 concerning Women in Peacekeeping Operations; UNGA Resolutions on ‘International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development 2021’, ‘Global Solidarity to Fight COVID-19’, ‘International Cooperation to Address Challenges Faced by Seafarers as a result of COVID-19 Pandemic to Support Global Supply Chains’, and ‘Global Health and Foreign Policy: Strengthening Health System Resilience through Affordable Healthcare for All’.

In its resolution on the protection of seafarers, the 193-member UNGA urged all countries to designate seafarers and other marine personnel as key workers, immediately implement measures allowing safe ship crew changes, allow stranded seafarers to be repatriated, and ensure access to medical care for all seafarers and other marine personnel. Currently, Indonesia ranks third in terms of seafaring manpower in the world, after China and the Philippines.