Jakarta to reimpose partial lockdown as virus cases surge

With more than 8,450 deaths, including 100+ frontline doctors across Indonesia, there are fears the health system may collapse; Jakarta likely to see office buildings, big  mosques, plus restaurants closed from Monday

by AFP
Jakarta to reimpose partial lockdown as virus cases surge
This picture taken on September 9, 2020 shows hospital workers preparing the body of a patient who succumbed to the coronavirus for burial, in an isolation ward at the Bogor general hospital in West Java. Indonesia reported at least 203,342 confirmed cases on Wednesday and over 8,336 deaths due to Covid-19. With some of the world’s lowest testing rates, the true scale is widely believed to be much greater. Retail sales are down by more than 10%. Photo: AFP.

Indonesia's capital Jakarta plans to re-impose a partial lockdown as early as Monday over fears that surging coronavirus cases could "collapse" its under-pressure hospitals, the sprawling city's governor said.

The megacity of some 30 million will see many office buildings and large mosques closed along with restaurants and other entertainment venues, while public transport hours will also be restricted.

The announcement comes three months after an earlier lockdown was lifted, sending infection rates soaring.

"The Jakarta administration has decided to pull the emergency brake and go back to large-scale restrictions," governor Anies Baswedan said late on Wednesday.

Without fresh moves to contain virus cases, the capital's hospitals could be overrun as early as next week, he said.

"After that, Jakarta's health facilities would collapse," he added.

More than 100 frontline doctors in Indonesia have died of Covid-19, including 15 in Jakarta.

"That adds to concerns that our health system will collapse if there are no serious measures to control the pandemic," said Halik Malik, spokesman for the Indonesian Doctors Association.

"We can't ignore or abandon patients just because health facilities and their employees can no longer accommodate them," he added.

Indonesia's main stock index tumbled 5% after the announcement on concerns about Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Jakarta had by Thursday recorded more than 207,000 confirmed cases – around a quarter of the national total – as well as more than 8,456 deaths.

But with some of the world's lowest testing rates, the spread of the disease is widely believed to be much greater than official figures suggest.

Retail sales slump

Indonesia's retail sales in July fell 12.3% from a year earlier but at a slower pace compared with the previous month, a central bank survey showed on Wednesday, Reuters reported.

Retail sales fell 17.1% on an annual basis in June. There were improvements in purchases of food, beverages, and tobacco, according to the survey of around 700 retailers across 10 major cities in the country including the capital Jakarta.

The Bank Indonesia survey predicted sales in August would fall 10.1% from a year earlier.

AFP, with reporting by Reuters