Health officials in Indonesia are blaming the emergence of the Delta variant first detected in India for a massive surge in COVID-19 that has seen the number of daily new cases more than triple in recent weeks, but some of the country’s leading infectious disease experts say the real reasons are closer to home.
“The spread of this virus variant is very fast,” Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin admitted during an online seminar on Sunday, adding that the variant had got a foothold in Indonesia through its ports.
“Because many seaports in Indonesia carry goods and many also come from India, they enter from there,” he said.
But experts interviewed by Al Jazeera said the Delta variant was not the primary problem.
They say the surge is a result of travel at the end of the month of Ramadan – when many people ignored a travel ban to visit their hometowns, the absence of a cohesive health policy coupled with confused messaging, the privatisation of testing regimes and ineffective tracing.
While travel was restricted at domestic airports and ferry terminals from April 22 to May 24, the government estimated between five and six million people still moved between cities on Indonesia’s two most heavily populated islands of Java and Sumatra during the holiday period.
“All COVID variants are a concern but the Delta variant has not proven to be more deadly,” said Udayana University professor Gusti Ngurah Mahardika, Bali’s most senior virologist. “It only gets a silver medal; the champion in Indonesia is still the Alpha variant. I believe the Delta variant is being used as a scapegoat because of the government’s incapacity to control the pandemic.”
Focus on the economy
Health authorities on Thursday reported 12,624 cases – the highest daily rise since February – bringing Indonesia’s total cases to nearly two million.
Mahardika says it is almost impossible to pinpoint the reason for the surge because infection rates are “so underreported” that health data “cannot be referred to” in Indonesia, but he pointed to a number of probable causes.
“People travelling during Ramadan played a role, no question about that,” he said. “But we are a disorganised country, most of the focus is on the economy and the people are experiencing COVID exhaustion and fatigue. In the capital (of Bali) Denpasar where I live, the cafe and restaurants are full every evening.”
Ahmad Utomo, a molecular biological consultant in Jakarta specialising in the diagnosis of lung infections, agreed that the Delta variant is being used to obscure mismanagement of the pandemic.
“I absolutely agree with that. Whatever the variant is, it needs human activity to replicate,” he said. “Indonesia is doing a good job in genome tracking, which is how they know the Delta variant is here.
“But the Delta variant,” Utomo explained, “is like a sports car. It can go very fast. But even a sports car can only go as fast as the road you give it and you have to address human mobility to slow it down.”
Utomo said too many people are disobeying health protocols and travel bans and the government is making it worse by failing to invest in testing and tracing.
“When people want to travel by ferry or plane in Indonesia, they need to pay for a test, so a huge industry has sprung up to cater to demand,” he said. “But there’s no money in tracing so it’s just being ignored.”
‘It will get very bad’
Dr Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist who has helped formulate the Indonesian Ministry of Health’s pandemic management strategy for 20 years, says while the Delta variant is more infectious than the Alpha variant, it is the latter that is driving the current outbreak.
“Currently, the spread of the Delta variant is very small, while the Alpha variant is being spread by community members who disobeyed the travel ban,” he told Al Jazeera. “I agree that the Delta variant is being used as a scapegoat. We are more than one year into the pandemic, but the government has proved it’s incapable of controlling COVID-19.”
While the Alpha variant might still be dominant, Buduman warned that it is only a matter of time before the Delta strain takes over.
He feared Indonesia could soon be facing an outbreak comparable to India’s.
“The Delta variant will lead infections next month,” he said. “I predict that in July there will be a huge caseload in the community and rising mortality in Java because 40 percent of Indonesia’s population lives on the island and this density puts them in a very dangerous situation.
“If you ask me how bad things are going to get, well, it will get very bad with much higher mortality because we can see from what happened in India that the pattern is very clear: The Delta variant impacts much harder in countries that do not have enough social distancing, mask-wearing, testing and tracing and vaccinations.”
As only 1 percent of positive cases in Indonesia have undergone genome tracking, there is no conclusive data to show the share of infections attributed to particular variants.
Dr Nadia Wiweko, the spokesperson for the Ministry of Health for COVID-19 vaccinations, admitted that travel has played a part in the accelerating outbreak.
“There is a trend of increasing cases because of community mobility from Ramadan,” Wiweko told Al Jazeera. “Previously, we had 3,000 cases per day but now we are moving past 9,000 cases.”
‘Not too late’
Developed countries have managed to suppress the pandemic with mass vaccination programmes, supported by effective testing and contact tracing.
Indonesia, which was the location of late-stage trials for China’s Sinovac jab, began its campaign in January, but has still only managed to fully vaccinate 4.3 percent of its population.
The government has been anxious about the economy since the pandemic first began late last year because it worries it cannot provide social security – let alone food packages – to its 270 million people. About 10 percent of Indonesians live below the poverty line.
Wiweko said the government is now looking at a micro-lockdown strategy to target areas of high infection.
“We have issued regulations to limit community activities on a micro-scale that is enforced in all provinces and city districts. This is like [large-scale social restrictions] but adapted to local conditions,” she said.
Wiweko said the strategy included targeted isolation and treatment, work from home regulations and limited shopping hours. Tracing is also being ramped up from five to 10 traces per positive case to 20 to 30, she added.
“We know people are worried,” she said, “but it’s not too late to prevent the peak of cases.”
But Budiman warns micro-lockdowns will prove ineffective.
“They are still focusing too much on the economic consequences but sooner or later, they are going to have to rethink their response because the experience from many other countries shows only total lockdowns combined with increase testing and tracing followed by isolation and quarantine with massive vaccination programmes are effective at containing the Delta variant,” he said.
Utomo voiced similar sentiments, “The solution is simple: enforce health protocols, test, trace and vaccinate. They must be persistent in their strategy.”
Even as cases surge, Indonesia is still talking about allowing foreign visitors to return as early as July to popular destinations like Bali, which welcomed 10 million foreigners in 2019 – the last year before the pandemic struck – in order to restart the island’s economy.
“The Lancet has published an article saying the only way to deal with outbreaks is elimination, not mitigation,” Utomo said.
“Our leaders have to crush the curve, not worry if people will vote for them at the election. Otherwise, we are never going to get out of this pandemic.”
Like our page on facebook @ Info4everybody Last Wednesday, we published the success story from Dr. Vladimir Zelenko, a board-certified family practitioner in New York, after he successfully treated 350 coronavirus patients with 100 percent success using a cocktail of drugs: hydroxychloroquine, in combination with azithromycin (Z-Pak), an antibiotic to treat secondary infections, and zinc sulfate. Dr. Zelenko said he saw the symptom of shortness of breath resolved within four to six hours after treatment. Do you know that the ancient Egypt were civilized by architects from the (500,000 - 4000 BC) Nsukka Civiliation? Now, Dr. Zelenko provides updates on the treatment after he successfully treated 699 COVID-19 patients in New York. In an exclusive interview with former New York Mayor, Rudy Giuliani, Dr. Vladmir Zelenko shares the results of his latest study, which showed that out of his 699 patients treated, zero patients died, zero patients intubated, and four ho
Copied from the book, Reality as Myth by Onyeji Nnaji . The influence of the Akan on their content nations lies on their population and commonwealth of their sister nations. The Akan are one of the largest ethnic groups in West Africa. Their population is scattered across West Africa and beyond. Origin of Africa Among this huge population of the Akan, the Ghanaians are more popular, perhaps because of the political influence of the Ashanti Empire in the area. Not much is heard or known about other Akan settlements like the Akwamu, the Akyem , the Akuapem, the Denkyira, the Abron, the Aowin, the Ahanta, the Anyi, the Baoule, the Chokosi, the Fante, the Kwahu, the Sefwi, the Ahafo, the Assin, the Evalue, the Wassa the Adjukru, the Akye, the Alladian, the Attie,the M'Bato, the Abidji, the Avikam,the Avatime the Ebrie, the Ehotile, the Nzema, the Abbe, the Aboure, the Coromantins, t
Copied from the Book; " Reality as Myth " by Onyeji Nnaji The beauty of the discovering of the Radar Rivers and their channels is that it disproves the western hegemonic claim of the Euphrates valley being the position of the birth of the great river, all the points that opposed their claims notwithstanding. Even God himself was very perfect in His creation by placing them in their positions, hierarchically, according to their birth. The first river that flowed located the Havilah land where there are good quality gold, bdellium and fine onyx stones. Pison was the oldest of the rivers and it flowed through the land of the southern Africa. The second river flowed northward to Ethiopia. It was when Africa had been overtaken by virtue of her proximity to the Great Water that other parts of the world began to encounter the remaining river; remarkable with Hiddekel. Subscribe to ajuede.com to be updated on our posts on dailies. The major problem towards
There are four generations…, and the fourth generation, which is the most exalted, is kingless and perfect. These people will enter the holy place of their Father and they will reside in rest … They are kings. They are the immortal within the mortal ( The Nag Hammadi, 219 ) O ne of the African homes that colonialism has completely deformed beyond certain level of recognition is Nsukka. Colonialism apart, the most affecting factor to the survival of the meaning which the rich cultural enclave, Nsukka, carries will best be blamed on postcolonial political structure. The biggest harm all these have against Nsukka as a people is that they rubbed her of the meaning of her name; their place of origin; how their fathers managed to come into their present abodes and who their ancestors were. A profound understanding of the excerpt above will open the door towards deciphering the meaning and origin of the people called Nsukka. Also read Nsukka Civilization: The Pe
STRICTLY FOR COUPLES … You will know that the man is the head while you are his neck. As such, you direct his focus and make him fixative Our series include the following : * Show him what he looks out for from other women * Teach him like he knows nothing * Learn to play naked games with your husband * Learn to package yourself * Learn to work on your husband M y neighbour had v owed never to let any girl survive as a salesgirl in my shop. This thing has happened for over three times. Each time we brought a new salesgirl, the girl would stay for two or three months; and suddenly she would end her contract with us. In all these, my husband did not know. So, being that the girls usually stole money and other items, the reason for their departure became genuine, thus: they ran away to avoid being punished for their actions. But behind this, the underlying truth is that the girls had been embarrassed by my neighbour who would warn them to leave her loosed husband. Re
INTRODUCTION In the history of syntax, prepositions alongside other parts of speech are considered as one of the esteemed contributions of the sophists (the itinerant teachers) to the development of the human language. Etymologically, the term “preposition” belonged to the group of word class Aristotle, the founder, referred to as “syndesmoi”. Others in this group are conjunction , article and pronoun . They were thus grouped by Aristotle because they were found to be performing related functions that are summed up in binding terms and exposing the gaps amidst sentences when they are not included. As a plural term, “syndesmoi” is a collective noun that stands for the group while, conjunction , the part of speech that binds together the discourse and finds gaps in its interpretation was called “syndesmos” (see Robins, 1968). Indicating the function of prepositions, Aristotle called it “Prothesis” (a part of speech placed before other words in a composition
Copied from the book, Reality as Myths by Onyeji Nnaji T he world of the Bantu travellers shows the walls of the migration that recorded the highest population among the African settlement. Originating from the largest population among the four races that settled in the east before time, all Bantu travellers were pygmies; for that was the nature of the Umudiala, the generation that gave birth to them. The Wikipedia map for Bantu migrations shown below will be of help towards digesting our descriptions of the Bantu people. Bantu migration was rated the third earliest migration of the Negro race from the east. In this regard, all their movement had involved great population of people compared to the number of people involved in the two earlier populations that gave birth to Ethiopia, Nubia and Egypt: the Walker Traveller, and the Race of Anu. Bantu population as we have identified in the third chapter above outweighs the rest of the population of the ancient fathers
T he name Nkalaha is a coinage which stands for a people occupying a geographical land and regional setting in the eastern part of Nigeria. It is a coinage which attempts to explain the direction of movement and adventure of the men who founded the community in the beginning. According to oral sources and some documentation about this community, some of these men were believed to have traveled from Ida, old Benue state of Nigeria to inhabit the land. These men had traveled on different days to locate the place. Onojah who originally founded the land was said to have been in a deep search for a place of safety as he was besieged by a fate that appeared to make him somewhat incompatible with his own people. Other works bothering on Nkalaha are stated below. Touch any of the topics and read them to increase your understanding of your home. Make comments where necessary. * The History of Nkalaha language * Myth and the Nkalaha world * The negative effects of politics in Nka
Strictly for Couples T he biggest risk every marriage faces is what I call the retiring time. There is actually no retiring time for marriage as the union directly speaks of itself. But many marriages normally do have certain time in their history when the couples begin to ware away from the other like a baked clod-and-pebble. By this time the parties find it difficult to retrace the path that once brought them together. You may have heard “I don’t think I sought your hands in marriage with clear eyes”. Next, they may say that the other used means on them. It is not always so, even when some people believe that someone could use means as a wooing instrument. Some of the causes of such situations have been discussed in the series 1 through 3. But when someone does not have any of these problems discussed in the series, then it is simply that such a wife needs to make herself look relatively younger that her age to enforce attraction on her husband. To do this one need
Copied from: Cosmic Chain by Onyeji Nnaji I n the Igbo cosmology, the word Isee is a definite symbolic word as revealed through the Igbo language and culture. A human being has five fingers, five toes. The hands and feet are fundamentals to the survival in life as they are necessary in ensuring that man moves to places where he gets food and grapples on the food to sustain his life. To this view, the rhetoric that binds vocatives in the form of incantation (anchoring on the heart-lock: four ) and the concomitant reprisal in the manner of affirmation that holds the human life bind to his original spiritual person, therefore defining existence and essences are unified by the corresponding echo: Isee!!!!! Therefore it stands that anytime a prayer is said in the Igbo land, the attendants who would want the fulfillment of the prayer unanimously affirmed the prayer by saying Isee! Five then becomes the language of the spirit, the language of the creator that indicates agreement to, no