Stay home and don’t end up like M’sia, Indonesia tells citizens
The Indonesian Health Ministry has cited Malaysia and India as a cautionary tale in urging its citizens to stay home and take precautions against Covid-19 infection.
The warning comes as the pandemic situation stabilises in Indonesia ahead of the Hari Raya Aidilfitri holidays, while both Malaysia and India face a surge in Covid-19 cases.
“Learn from India and Malaysia, for surely we don’t want Indonesia to face the same problem.
“People are urged to tighten their 3M health protocols and avoid venturing out from home when not necessary,” the ministry said on its microblogging site on Thursday.
The “3M” refers to wearing face masks, hand washing and maintaining social distancing.
The tweet is part of a series of tweets warning of the dangers of new Covid-19 variants that have been detected in Indonesia namely the B.1.1.7 lineage, the B.1.351 lineage and the B.1.617.1 lineage.
“All three variants are believed to be able to spread faster than those before them. This is seen after several countries confirmed a surge in cases alongside the discovery of new variants in their countries,” it said.
The tweet also included a poster of Indonesian Health Ministry spokesperson Dr Siti Nadi Tarmizi, who is an epidemiologist by training, saying that the two factors driving the Covid-19 surge in Europe and India were the emergence of new variants and high mobility.
She urged people to remain home during the Hari Raya holidays instead of returning to their hometowns and practice health precautions even if they have been vaccinated.
This evening, Malaysia’s Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said three locally circulated cases of B.1.1.7 had been detected up to yesterday.
The variant was first detected in the UK and is associated with increased transmissibility.
Meanwhile, 48 local cases of the B.1.351 variant have been detected. This variant was first detected in South Africa and is associated with increased transmissibility, increased ability to re-infect Covid-19 survivors and dampened vaccine efficacy.
Most concerningly, the AstraZeneca vaccine is virtually impotent against the variant in terms of preventing mild-to-moderate disease. The vaccine’s efficacy in preventing severe illness or death caused by this variant is not known.
As for the B.1.617.1 variant that is behind the current surge in India, Noor Hisham said one imported case has been detected but the person was quarantined upon entering the country. The effects of this variant are still being studied.
Covid-19 cases in Indonesia have been hovering between 4,000 to 6,000 cases per day since late March whereas cases in Malaysia are on an uptrend reaching 4,500 cases today.
When adjusted for the size of its population, Malaysia has over 100 cases per million, whereas Indonesia has around 18 per million. The situation in India is much worse with more than 350,000 cases confirmed per day, or over 280 per million people and rising.
India is also likely to be severely under-testing its population with more than 20 percent of tests returning a positive result. This means the actual number of cases is likely to be much higher than reported.