According to the Indonesian government, as of 15 April 2021, the number of persons infected with coronavirus in Indonesia stood at 1,589,300, with 1,438,000 recovered and 43,000 dead. Of these, 396,000 were in the Special Capital Region of Jakarta, accounting for 24.9% of the total.
In Indonesia, after the outbreak of Covid-19 in early March 2020 the number of newly infected people continued to increase without the first wave finishing (Abdulah 2020). Yet, after they reached around 14,518 on the 30 January, infections finally started to decline, and on April 10, the number reached 3,629, less than one-third of the peak. Some government officials have emphasized an improvement in the situation, and this may be the reason why Jakarta has become more crowded leading to worsening traffic congestion. At the time of writing on 15 April, there were 6177 new confirmed cases and 167 deaths.
After the outbreak of the Coronavirus, there was a clear increase in the number of people in clown-suits on the streets of Jakarta (15 March, Author’s photo)
The percentage of infected people is 0.6% for the whole nation and 3.9% for Jakarta, yet this may be much higher. For example, at present, I have 17 graduate students under my supervision, and five of them have become infected. My wife’s relatives are also infected, and there are many more in the local vicinity. This is very different to Japan, where we do not get to hear about specific cases among relatives and friends, even though many figures are released. It appears that in Jakarta and the surrounding areas, the percentage of people with the disease is well above 10%.
Photo of another person in a clown-suit (18 April, Author’s photo)
Infections have also spread to provincial cities, and for example, it has been said that at Islamic University of Riau, five faculty members have died. Yet, the situation is different in remote rural areas. In a village I visited in Sumatra the other day, there were no cases of infection yet and almost no-one was wearing a face mask. One of my students mentioned “I was the only one wearing a mask in the village I went to survey.”
Since April 2020, the Indonesian government has been implementing large-scale social restrictions (Pembatasan Sosial Berskala Besar, or PSBB) and is now implementing measures to restrict social activities (Pemberlakuan Pembatasan Kegiatan Masyarakat, or PPKM) and small-scale social activities (PPKM Mikro) as well as mobilizing neighborhood associations and neighborhood groups to regulate various social activities, such as the wearing of masks, washing hands, maintain distance from others, avoiding crowds, and restricting movement (Andrini 2020, Setiati and Azwar 2020).
At university we have no face-to-face classes due to the implementation of PSBB and PPKM but with PPKM Mikro, face-to-face classes are possible. However, at this stage, these haven’t started yet, and I have barely seen any of my students or fellow faculty members since 18 March, 2020. Elementary, junior high schools and high schools are basically under the same conditions as universities, but the government is considering face-to-face classes in elementary, junior high schools and high schools, and has put in place regulations such as maximum class sizes of 18 students, dividing classes in half and taking turns to carry out face-to-face (Rasmitadila et al 2020).
The situation is slowly improving however, the decisive factor will be the vaccine. Vaccinations in Indonesia began with President Jokowi’s inoculation on 13 January this year, and he appealed to Indonesians the importance of vaccinating. Priority has been given to healthcare personnel including medical students, the military, police, mass media workers, tourism industry workers, teachers including religious teachers, ministry officials, and even commercial traders in large markets. The free vaccination has progressed rapidly and is now being rolled out to vaccinate the elderly, who are the next priority target group after the above. Vaccination of the elderly is being carried out on a town by town basis.
Drive-through vaccination site (19 April, Author’s photo)
I fell into the category of teacher within the above list of priority recipients and received my first round of vaccinations at the University of Indonesia Hospital on 23 March 2021. This was done through a drive-in system, which was very smooth. Afterwards, I waited in the car for 30 minutes, had my blood pressure and body temperature checked, and then left the venue with no symptoms or complications. The second round of vaccinations is scheduled for 19 April. Vaccinations of the elderly have also been proceeding and Mr. Jumpi, a retired former driver of the CSEAS liaison office in Jakarta, completed his first round on 5 April at a neighborhood association program. I was vaccinated with Sinovac made by Bio Farma, the Indonesian national pharmaceutical company, using materials from China, while Mr. Jumpi was vaccinated with AstraZeneca.
The author receiving a vaccination
As part of the government’s efforts to promote the vaccination, there is also a voluntary vaccine program (vaksin mandiri, vaksin gotong royong). Under this system, companies apply to the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry to receive vaccines, and they then pay the costs. So far, more than 17,000 have applied for the program, which will cover about 8.6 million people. The goal is to reach 20 million people in the near future, including state-run companies.
As of 15 April, 2021, 10.6 million people have completed the first round of vaccinations and 5.71 million people have completed the second round throughout the country. The government says it will proceed to vaccinate one million people per day in June. One million vaccinations per day will take a considerable amount of time to roll out in a population of 270 million, although children will not be covered.
In addition to Sinovac and AstraZeneca (U.K.), Sinopharm (China), Moderna (U.S.), Pfizer-BioNTech (U.S. and Germany), and Novavax (U.S.) are scheduled to supply the vaccine. It has also been reported that contracts have been signed with companies in Australia and Canada. In addition, Eijkman, a research institute in Indonesia, is developing domestic vaccines. The voluntary vaccine program uses vaccines such as Sinopharm, CanSino (China), and Sputnik V (Russia), and does not use the vaccines used in the government‘s regular program.
In spite of a lot of discussion about the side effects of vaccines, people are receiving them on a more frequent basis, and in some places, scrambling for them. The President himself has taken the initiative to receive a vaccination and has been widely promoting the idea of getting vaccinated and this has been very effective. As most administered to date are Sinovac from China or Sinovac prepared in Indonesia, there has been some hesitation and opposition amongst some, such as with concerns over halal issues, but the government has done a good job of controlling these, and Islamic leaders have actively cooperated by declaring that vaccines are halal. Even opponents from the 2019 presidential election, the former Prabowo supporters, who have criticized Jokowi behind his back for being more pro-China, are actively receiving the vaccine. Considering things, the only way to overcome this pandemic is to vaccinate (while continuing to thoroughly use face masks and so on), so the government has had a clear policy from early on taking appropriate measures.
A photo in front of the ‟Vaccinated!“ sign board (19 April)
Although the vaccination of public servants has been made compulsory, there are still strong concerns about vaccines in remote villages in Sumatra. In some where there has been no outbreak of infections, it is possible that a fear of vaccines may outweigh the fear of infections themselves.
It is not clear how the vaccine will help to reduce the number of new infections, but it is true that there is a certain sense of relief. Activity in the city is increasing, but the government fears that it will go too far and has banned people from returning to their homes on the occasion of the upcoming Idul Fitri Islamic feast after Ramadan on May 13. Although the situation is improving, we are still far from a point where we can feel fully secure.
21 April 2021
English Translation Mario Lopez
- Abdullah, Irwan. 2020. Covid-19: Threat and Fear in Indonesia. Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 12(5): 488-490.
- Andriani, Helen. 2020. Effectiveness of Large-scale Social Restriction (PSBB) toward the New Normal Era during COVID-19 Outbreak: A Mini Policy Review. Journal of Indonesian Health Policy and Administration 5(2): 61-65.
- Rasmitadila, Rusi Rusmiati Aliyyah, Reza Rachmadtullah, Achmad Samsudin, Ernawulan Syaodih, Muhammad Nurtanto, and Anna Riana Suryanti Tambunan. 2020. The Perceptions of Primary School Teachers of Online Learning during the COVID-19 Pandemic Period: A Case Study in Indonesia. Journal of Ethnic and Cultural Studies 7(2): 90-109. http://dx.doi.org/10.29333/ejecs/388
- Setiati, Siti and Muhammad K. Azwar. 2020. Covid-19 and Indonesia. Acta Medica Indonesiana – Indonesian Journal of Internal Medicine 52(1): 84-89.
Dr. Mizuno Kosuke is professor of development studies at School of Environmental Science, University of Indonesia (SILUI), emeritus professor at the Center for Southeast Asian Studies (CSEAS), Kyoto University, and a visiting professor at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature (RIHN). After working at the Institute of Developing Economies (IDE), he joined the Center for Southeast Asian Area Studies, Kyoto University in 1996. He has studied Indonesia’s economy from the viewpoint of people’s organizations, institutions and economic development under democratization based on extensive field works focusing on land, labor and capital. His publications include Rural Industrialization in Indonesia, a Study on Community-based Weaving Industry in West Java (1996 IDE), Populism in Asia (2009 NUS Press) and Direktori Serikat Pekerja/ Serikat Buruh Indonesia. Bandung, Indonesia: (Directory of Trade Unions in Indonesia), (2007 Akatiga Pusat Analisis Sosial, Bandung). More recently he also published Catastrophe and Regeneration in Indonesia’s Peatlands: Ecology, Economy and Society, (2016 NUS Press) and Sustainability and Crisis at the Village: Agroforestry in West Java, Indonesia. (the Talun-Huma system and rural social economy) (2016 UGM Press).
Mizuno Kosuke. 2021. “Covid-19 Infections in Indonesia: Status and progress of vaccinations in Jakarta, Indonesia” CSEAS NEWSLETTER, 78: TBC.