Jakarta (ANTARA) - Adequate and controlled handling of the pandemic has prevented Indonesia from facing new waves of positive COVID-19 cases seen in other countries, the Indonesian Health Ministry has said.

“Hopefully, Indonesia will be much healthier than before," Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said at the “2022 Health Ministry Performance Press Conference and the 2023 Health Ministry Work Program” in Jakarta on Thursday.

The acceleration of vaccination has helped reduce COVID-19 cases significantly in Indonesia of late, he noted. This has shown that the intensification of the vaccination program by the government has been quite effective.

Even though Indonesia experienced two waves of COVID-19, namely the Delta wave in June–July 2021 and the Omicron wave in June–July 2022, the country managed to handle a spike in new cases both in terms of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

According to data provided by the Committee for Handling COVID-19 and National Economic Recovery (KPC-PEN) on January 4, 2023, in terms of vaccination coverage, Indonesia is among the top five countries in the world, below China, India, the United States, and Brazil.

"In 2022, Indonesia administered around 450 million doses of the vaccine, which were injected into 204 million people from a target population of around 234 million people," Sadikin informed.

As of December 25, 2022, the reproduction number (Rt) in Indonesia stood at 0.78, or below 1. This means that if one person is infected with the virus, they have the potential to transmit it to less than one person.

In order to identify the pattern of the spread of the virus, the number of laboratories and the ability to identify new variants in Indonesia have been scaled up rapidly, the minister said.

As of December 2022, the number of laboratories across Indonesia had increased to 41 from 16, with 56 types of equipment made available in them.

"We have succeeded in increasing our sequencing capacity from only 140 in 9 months to over 5 thousand in one month," he added.

He said that the government learnt from the Delta wave when the oxygen supply was hampered. It is cooperating with various parties so that it can immediately overcome any oxygen shortage by bringing in supplies from abroad.

The pandemic handling has also involved utilizing telemedicine services for patients testing positive for COVID-19, which has also helped the government to monitor their health via the PeduliLindungi application, Sadikin added.

Patients who test positive for COVID-19 can contact health services through WhatsApp messenger to get telemedicine services. Since the program was first launched, around 1.6 million COVID-19 patients have received WhatsApp messages to continue consultations via telemedicine.

The PeduliLindungi has also provided many benefits in terms of tracking and surveillance in the community, he noted. At present, PeduliLindungi is one of the biggest applications in the world and has been downloaded by 104 million Indonesians.

"Within one year, there were 500 thousand people who needed medicines. We were able to provide them with telemedicine, tele-prescriptions, and medicine that were immediately given to them," he said.

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Translator: Hreeloita Dharma S, Resinta S
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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