"The general (priority) in the fight against the pandemic right now is actually the health sector, not economy," Astuti said at an online discussion here on Monday.
It, however, does not mean that the economic sector is not important, but it is not the sector that should be prioritized amid the current increase in COVID-19 cases, she clarified.
It would be futile to prioritize economic recovery over health as it would result in an increase in the number of deaths, the program director remarked.
"Any amount of funds and energy expended will be a waste," she said.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia currently stands at 3.17 million, a relatively high number compared to other ASEAN nations such as Philippines, Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar, Vietnam, and Singapore, Astuti noted.
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Hence, the PPKM must continue to be enforced until the number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia starts to decline, she stated.
As an example, Astuti pointed to the way China tightly isolated itself when the number of COVID-19 cases in the nation spiked.
As a result, China's economic growth contracted 6.8 percent in the first quarter of 2021, she said.
However, once the number of cases started to decline due to the strict closure, vaccination acceleration, as well as optimal tracing and testing, the country's economy managed to grow slowly, she noted.
"So, the (Indonesian) government does not need to be afraid to implement the PPKM," Astuti asserted.
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