Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan answered the flood of criticism from various levels of society who objected to the implementation of the PCR test for air transportation modes. He said this policy was carried out to balance the relaxation carried out by the government on community activities, especially in the tourism sector.
Luhut explained, although the COVID-19 cases in the country have decreased, the government will continue to strengthen pandemic control strategies such as strengthening 3T and enforcing 3M health protocols so that cases do not rise again, especially in the face of the Christmas and New Year (Nataru) holiday period. Not only for airplanes, the use of the PCR test will also be applied gradually to other modes of transportation.
“It should be understood that the PCR policy was implemented because we see the risk of spreading is increasing, due to population mobility which has increased rapidly in the last few weeks,” Luhut said in a press teleconference in Jakarta, Monday (25/10).
“Once again I want to emphasize, we learn from many countries that have relaxed community activities and prokes, then the cases have increased tremendously, even though their vaccination rate is much higher than in Indonesia,” he added.
He gave an example, what happened in England, Italy and the Netherlands, which experienced a significant spike. Therefore, he stressed, the various policies carried out by the current government are solely to prevent an explosion of cases like the one that occurred in the June-July 2021 period due to the spread of the Delta variant.
“So I beg you not to see how good it is, because it’s good that we relax excessively later when it’s crowded, don’t make a fuss. So I beg you, we have had enough experience, dealing with this, so don’t be emotional about what we are doing,” he said.
The president, said Luhut, also instructed to lower the price of the PCR test from the original Rp495,000 to Rp300 thousand which is valid for 3×24 hours.
In addition, based on a survey from the Ministry of Transportation’s Balitbangkes, it was found that there will be an increase in community mobility during the upcoming Nataru holiday. It is predicted that as many as 19.9 million people will travel in Java and Bali, and around 4.45 million people will move around the Greater Jakarta area.
New Variant Delta
On the same occasion, Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the government will continue to anticipate the occurrence of a third wave ahead of the Nataru holiday, especially since Indonesia will host various international events, including the G20 Economic Forum. In addition, his party is also closely monitoring the development of a new variant of Delta, namely AY.4.2, which is found in the UK which is potentially worrying.
“This variant is a derivative of the Delta variant which has significantly increased the number of confirmed cases in the UK, since July-October this year and is still increasing. Then second, we see that some countries in Europe are indeed increasing cases,” said Budi.
Budi said that there had been an increase in cases in 105 regencies/cities spread across 30 provinces in the last two weeks. Although the increase in cases is still within the safe limits of the World Health Organization (WHO), it will continue to suppress the spread of the corona virus outbreak so that it can be controlled properly.
“For that, what needs to be done from the side surveillance we will ensure that all close contact must be made testing, because that is where the greatest risk of spreading is,” he said.
The 3T protocol, according to the Minister of Health, must be implemented as well as possible. In addition, the government will also ensure accelerated vaccination, especially for the elderly.
“Because these are people who are at high risk of being hospitalized and dying if there is a further spike, which we hope will not happen,” he explained.
Regarding vaccination coverage, as of October 25, the Minister of Health reported that the first 182 million doses had been injected to 113 million people or 54 percent of the target population of 208 million people. Meanwhile, as many as 68 million people or 32 percent of the target population have received the full dose of COVID-19 vaccination.
With a speed of injecting 2.3 million doses per day, Budi targets by the end of the year as many as 290 million-300 million doses can be given to 168 million people for the first dose or 80 percent of the target population, and 123 million people have received the second or second dose of vaccination. about 59 percent of the target population.
Antigen Quite Effective
Epidemiologist from Australia’s Griffith University, Dicky Budiman, said that based on a risk-based strategy, the potential for transmission on airplanes was the lowest compared to other modes of transportation. So, according to him, it doesn’t make sense if the PCR test is made a mandatory requirement for airplane passengers.
“So if, for example, we want to continue running, it means that other modes of transportation must also use PCR. But the problem is, when we talk about effectiveness, the rapid antigen test is still relatively effective, because when we talk about the risk-based strategy, it is clear that there is still sufficient antigen,” he said. FLY.
In addition, he said, the pandemic control strategy must cost effective, and according to him, it is not suitable if the PCR test requirements are made a mandatory requirement for airplane passengers for now.
“Why? Not only in terms of price, but in terms of time, access, speed. If you compare this, it’s heavy on the community and on the airline as well, except for the provider, which will benefit a little from this position. Therefore, for continuity, as well as consistency in risk-based strategies, antigen is sufficient,” he explained.
Furthermore, said Dicky, the government must be aware of the threat of a new variant from Delta which could have a more serious impact than the second wave. The strategy for strengthening the 3T, 5M and vaccination must continue to be promoted equally and equally, especially tight security at the entrance to the country by imposing a quarantine period for international travelers, which should not be less than seven days. The 5M strategy is the 3M strategy plus avoiding crowds and reducing mobility.
“This is getting more serious, especially data in the UK showing that there is a variant of Delta, Delta plus which can potentially beat Delta from the data currently available. And that means that the so-called third wave, which was a moderate threat, can be the same as the second wave. This means that we cannot ignore it, especially since the foundation of our control program is still not strong. 3T alone is not evenly distributed, equal and strong,” he concluded. [gi/ab]