Epidemiologist: Too Early to Talk About New Normal

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Laila Afifa

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  • TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Syahrizal Syarif, an epidemiologist from the University of Indonesia, stated that it is still premature for Indonesia to apply the ‘new normal’ scenario, as the COVID-19 outbreak is yet to be under control.

    "Daily reports of (COVID-19) cases are still fluctuating, so it is too early to talk about the new normal," Syafrizal said through his written statement, on Wednesday, May 27, 2020.

    The new normal refers to a new public attitude geared to avoid COVID-19 transmission, during a period where the pandemic is under control, yet to the vaccine has been found. "For Indonesia, as the outbreak has actually not been controlled, it is still too early to talk about the new normal,” he said.

    According to Syahrizal, Indonesia is currently focusing on how to maximize the Large Scale Social Restriction (PSBB) policy, in regards to flattening the COVID-19 transmission curve. Taking into account COVID-19 data per region, a substantial disparity in the progression of the COVID-19 outbreak exists between provinces.

    As pointed out by Syahrizal, 22 provinces, or 66 percent of Indonesia’s total provinces, are currently reporting less than ten COVID-19 positive cases. “Half of this number are reporting zero COVID-19 positive cases,” he said.

    On the other hand, 12 provinces are currently reporting less than 100 COVID-19 positive cases. Although Jakarta is claiming a decrease in COVID-19 cases, continued Syahrizal, the government needs to acknowledge that Jakarta residents are prone to coronavirus transmission.

    The figure indicates 723 positive COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 Jakarta residents. In comparison, the most populated province in the country, East Java, indicates 1.5 positive COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 Jakarta residents.

    Aside from Jakarta, South Sulawesi ranks second with 120 positive COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 residents, followed by Banten and West Java, both with 106 positive COVID-19 cases for every 100,000 residents.

    “So, if the government, even with the pandemic still fluctuating, is looking to relax their policies; they must be prepared for a potential surge in cases, considering that local transmission is still likely to occur," he added.

    IMAM HAMDI | Translator: DIO SUHENDA (Intern)