Indonesia to impose Covid lockdown as cases surge

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Indonesia will impose a strict 2½-week lockdown across large parts of the country to stem a surge in Covid-19 cases.

The emergency measures will be in place from 3-20 July, president Joko Widodo said today. The announcement comes after new Covid-19 cases surged to a record high of almost 22,000 yesterday, up from less than 5,000/d a month earlier.

The restrictions will cover Indonesia's most populous island of Java, as well as Bali, which together account for around 60pc of the population.

All workers in non-essential sectors will have to work from home while the curbs are in place. Shops will be closed, with only essential businesses allowed to operate, some with restricted hours.

Industries deemed to be critical — including energy, utilities, petrochemicals — will continue as normal. But only vaccinated passengers will be able to travel by long-distance air, bus or train, with caps imposed on the use of other public transportation.

Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation, is Asia-Pacific's largest gasoline importer and a major producer of other commodities including coal, gas and palm oil.

Widodo blamed the surge in cases on the Delta variant of Covid-19. Some hospitals in the capital Jakarta are running out of beds and oxygen, prompting medical humanitarian group the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent to warn this week that the country is on "the edge of a catastrophe".

The lockdowns in Indonesia add to restrictions imposed elsewhere in the region this week, amid the slow roll-out of vaccinations and the rise of the Delta variant. Australia has imposed stay-home notices in some of its major cities, while Malaysia has extended movement restrictions and Bangladesh introduced a strict week-long lockdown today.


By Kevin Foster

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