No need to pull emergency brake for Omicron: presidential office

Photo for illustration purpose only. Photo: Unsplash
Photo for illustration purpose only. Photo: Unsplash

Indonesia’s government likely won’t impose strict restrictions despite a surge in COVID-19 cases, as the Executive Office of the President (KSP) said that there is no need yet to take drastic measures due to the nature of the Omicron variant.

In a written statement published today, KSP expert staffer Abraham Wirotomo said there is little reason for alarm due to Omicron, which, as those clamoring for the return to normal life have been beating us over the head with, causes less severe symptoms compared to previous variants.

“The weekly data show that, even though cases have been climbing high, hospital occupancy rates are still manageable. So there is no need to pull the emergency brake,” Abraham said.

Abraham was referring to the Emergency Enforcement of Restrictions on Public Activities (Emergency PPKM), which was imposed at the height of the deadly Delta variant wave and was the strictest lockdown measure Indonesia has had throughout the pandemic.

“After we learned about Omicron’s less severe characteristics compared to Delta, the government took the policy of prioritizing self-isolation for those with mild or no symptoms, and prioritizing hospitals for the elderly and the immunocompromised,” he said.

Indonesia’s current Omicron hotspots, namely the Greater Jakarta Area, Bali, Yogyakarta and Bandung, yesterday went up to Level 3 of the 4-tiered PPKM protocol. However, the current iteration of Level 3 PPKM is far more relaxed than the version imposed last year to combat the Delta variant.

Indonesia averaged 27,033 new infections daily over the past week, up nearly 200 percent from the previous week. While the number of active cases reached 206,361 on Feb. 7 — the highest since Aug. 30, 2021 — the strain on the healthcare system is thought to not be as great this time around, as the national hospital bed occupancy rate remains at a relatively low 19 percent. 

Health Ministry data showed that of the 36,885 people that were treated at hospitals for COVID-19 between Jan. 21-Feb. 6, more than 70 percent were asymptomatic or had mild symptoms.

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