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JAKARTA, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, will reinstate wide-scale social restrictions “as soon as possible” because a rise in coronavirus infections threatens to strain its health system, its governor said on Wednesday.
Jakarta has recorded a daily average of over 1,000 new cases this month, and has now registered almost 43,400 infections and 1,330 deaths from COVID-19 since the pandemic began, according to central government data.
The capital will reinstate restrictions similar to those imposed from April until June, when public transport was limited and dining in restaurants was forbidden, and working from offices will be prohibited from Monday, Governor Anies Baswedan said. “Right now, this is an emergency — more pressing than the start of the pandemic,” he said, adding that food assistance will be delivered to the most vulnerable while tighter restrictions are in place.
Baswedan said that without stricter measures, beds in intensive care units and isolation could be full within two months.
The occupancy rate of isolation rooms at 67 COVID-19 referral hospitals in Jakarta is now 77%, and the ICU occupancy rate is 83%, according to figures released by the city administration this week.
“This is about saving Jakarta residents. If we let it go on, the hospitals would not be able to take in (more patients) and deaths will increase,” Baswedan said.
Experts from Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University (NTU) told a news conference they expected hospitals in Jakarta to reach full capacity this month if stricter measures were not imposed and said the death toll could hit 3,000 in Jakarta by the end of October.
“The slower we move, the harder it is to fight the pandemic, the more victims will fall,” Sulfikar Amir, a disaster sociologist, said.
Indonesia has recorded 203,342 coronavirus infections and 8,336 deaths, the highest death toll in Southeast Asia.
Additional reporting by Fathin Ungku, Gayatri Suroyo, Angie Teo, Fransiska Nangoy; Writing by Kate Lamb and Stanley Widianto; Editing by Timothy Heritage
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