Cases of the more contagious and transmissible Delta variant in Merauke district were confirmed quite recently by the Health Ministry's Health Research and Development Agency (Litbangkes).
As disclosed by the Merauke COVID-19 task force spokesperson, Neville Maskita, on July 20, 2021, the cases of the Delta variant were confirmed based on lab tests of samples sent to the agency's laboratory.
"The Litbangkes announced on Monday evening (July 20, 2021) that the COVID-19 Delta variant had spread to Merauke, Papua, based on the lab test results of samples sent to the agency," Maskita said.
On July 22, the task force recorded 421 COVID-19 cases, with the majority of patients placed in self-isolation and 40 hospitalized at the Merauke public hospital.
To deal with the COVID-19 surge in the district, the task force has asked the Health Ministry to deliver more medical oxygen and ventilators. "May the ministry meet our request," Maskita said.
Currently, coronavirus infections have spread to 18 districts and cities across the province, according to the Papua COVID-19 task force.
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Six of the affected areas are located in Papua's mountainous regions in the districts of Jayawijaya, Lanny Jaya, Tolikara, Pegunungan Bintang, Paniai, and Puncak Jaya, the task force's spokesperson, Silwanus Sumule, said.
The 12 other affected regions comprise Jayapura City and the districts of Jayapura, Merauke, Boven Digul, Asmat, Mappi, Mimika, Biak Numfor, Supiori, Kepulauan Yapen, Nabire, and Keerom.
On July 21, Papua recorded 570 additional cases, bringing the total number of infections since the pandemic struck the province last year to 31,204 .
Of the total number of COVID-19 patients, 24,825 have fully recovered from the infection, 688 others have succumbed to the virus, and 5,691 remain hospitalized, Sumule informed.
"Local residents are again requested to keep complying with the government's health protocols anytime they do outdoor activities," he said.
Amid the alarming spike in infections, the Papua administration has asked residents to be prepared for a month-long lockdown in August, 2021 after the micro-scale public activity restrictions (PPKM Mikro) end on July 25.
During the lockdown, all entry points to Papua province would be closed to curb an exponential increase in COVID-19 infections in communities, spokesperson for the Papua governor, Muhammad Rifai Darus, said earlier.
The detailed rules of the lockdown, which would entail the closure of airports and seaports from August 1 to August 31, 2021, were deliberated at the Papua COVID-19 task force's meeting on July 21, he informed.
On July 19, 2021, Papua Governor Lukas Enembe and his counterparts from all over Indonesia held a virtual meeting with President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) to discuss the country's COVID-19 pandemic situation, he said.
Following the meeting, Governor Enembe initiated a meeting with his subordinates to discuss Papua's COVID-19 pandemic situation, he added.
Enembe also issued a letter, No.440/7736/SET, notifying the enforcement of PPKM Mikro until July 25, 2021, Darus said.
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Though the Papua administration has been regularly evaluating the enforcement of the PPKM Mikro, the governor has instructed all authorities to intensify coordinated COVID-19 mitigation efforts, he added.
Papua has come under the spotlight of Indonesia's media outlets as it is scheduled to host this year's PON National Games and National Para Games (Peparnas).
The PON National Games will take place in Jayapura City and the districts of Jayapura, Mimika, and Merauke from October 2 to October 15, while the Peparnas will be held from November 2 to November 15.
At least 6,400 athletes and 3,500 officials from 34 provinces across Indonesia are expected to participate in Papua's PON National Games, which will feature 37 events.
Meanwhile, 1,935 athletes and 740 officials will take part in the National Para Games in Jayapura City and Jayapura district, which will feature 12 events.
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To ensure the safety of athletes and officials participating in the PON National Games and National Para Games, President Widodo has asked the concerned agencies to inoculate all athletes.
The President has also instructed that local residents living near all venues of the sporting events and athletes' villages be vaccinated, according to Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali.
The Papua administration is striving to flatten the COVID-19 curve though the situation seems to have become quite challenging for the province's healthcare system, with several hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients.
To address this situation, Papua cannot work alone. The central government and all related stakeholders must assist the province to bring the soaring COVID-19 cases under control.
It is time to show the spirit of "gotong royong" (mutual cooperation) and a true sense of Indonesianness to the Papua administration and people in dire need of help in the province.
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