The Government has announced it is implementing four strategies to tackle the Omicron Variant.
“Ministry of Health will consistently implement four strategies to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic, including the Omicron variant. We will focus on the 3M health protocols (wearing face masks, maintaining physical distancing, and avoiding crowds), the 3T measures (testing, tracing, and treatment) or implementation of self-isolation, vaccination drive, and therapeutic treatments for COVID-19 patients,” Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in a livestreamed press statement on the Development of COVID-19 Handling and the Evaluation of the Implementation of public activity restrictions (PPKM), Monday (12/27).
The Minister also underscored the importance of discipline in observing the 3M health protocols to curb COVID-19 transmission and appealed to the public to remain disciplined in using the PeduliLindung application.
“I’ve noticed that many people who visit shopping malls and restaurants forget to use the PeduliLindung application before entering those compounds. It is the duty of the officers to remind the public to use it. Why? Because this helps us screen people if they are potentially infected, yet they can still go in and out of public places,” Budi said, while urging the public not to travel abroad unless for essential urgent needs as Omicron cases have surged rapidly.
“Do not travel abroad if it is not for urgent needs because now the source of the disease is overseas. We see that most of the returnees were those who have been infected. Thus, protect ourselves, do not go abroad,” he said.
As 98 percent of Omicron cases in the country are from international travelers, Budi emphasized that the Government will tighten quarantine rules for travelers.
“We have to protect our 270 million citizens who are now in a good health condition. Please understand that we will tighten the quarantine process for international arrivals for Indonesian citizens,” Budi said.
For the record, a number of quarantine centers provided by the Government are located in Jakarta, Surabaya, Batam, and Entikong, all of which are to anticipate the return of Indonesian migrant workers (PMI).
“We have also calculated the number of people who will return based on last year’s arrival. The difference is now the quarantine should be carried out for 10 days that lead to quarantine capacity constraints in the first place. However, we have arranged it already,” the Minister explained.
In addition to enforcing health protocols and tightening quarantine rules, the Government, he added, has also strengthening COVID-19 surveillance or detection by increasing the number of PCR test equipment that can identify the Omicron variant.
“We have distributed PCR test equipment to all major points-of-entry in Indonesia so we can identify the Omicron variant faster within only 4-6 hours compared to the genome sequencing test which takes between 3-5 days,” he said.
The Government is also strengthening COVID-19 surveillance by adding 15 units of genome sequencing equipment, which will be distributed to various regions in the country, he added.
“We hope the equipment will arrive at the beginning of next year. We will distribute it to all the islands of Indonesia (Sumatra, Kalimantan, Sulawesi, Maluku, and Papua) so that this genome sequencing test can be carried out faster across the country, not only in Java,” Budi said.
Regarding vaccination, the Minister underlined that the Government will continue to accelerate the national vaccination drive, especially for vulnerable groups with a greater risk of COVID-19.
“It is important for us to boost vaccination, especially for those who are at higher risk, including the elderly and people with low immune system. We must quickly vaccinate them so they will not get infected by the Omicron variant,” he said, adding that his Ministry has also prepared health facilities and medicines to tackle a possible spike in new cases.
“We have prepared hospital facilities, be it beds and medicines. We have also prepared a large amount of oxygen that consists of more than 16 thousand oxygen generators and 31 oxygen concentrators,” he remarked. (FID/UN) (RIF/EP)
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