Jakarta (ANTARA) - President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) confirmed that the government had not decided on urging people to wear masks in connection with an increase in COVID-19 cases ahead of the 2023 Christmas and 2024 New Year holidays.

"We have not declared it (the need to wear masks). However, the health minister and his ranks will continue to monitor this matter," the president said after inspecting the construction of phase 2A of the mass rapid transit (MRT) in Jakarta on Friday.

Jokowi then spoke of having instructed Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin to pay close attention to measures for anticipating a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases during the imminent year-end long holidays.

"Yes, I have ordered the health minister to monitor and observe the developments (of the cases) in detail," he affirmed.

He noted that Minister Sadikin had confirmed that the current situation is still under control.

"Yes, we will continue to monitor and observe the situation," he added.

Earlier, on Thursday (December 14), the Ministry of Health reported an increase in the number of COVID-19 cases recorded in 21 provinces across Indonesia over the past few weeks.

In response, the ministry has issued a circular letter to encourage relevant stakeholders at provincial, district, and municipal levels to step up vigilance toward the disease.

"The Health Ministry has issued a circular letter concerning the need to boost vigilance in relation to the spike in COVID-19 cases," Head of the ministry's Communication and Public Services Bureau, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said in Jakarta.

The increase in COVID-19 cases was recorded in Banten, Yogyakarta, Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, East Java, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, North Kalimantan, Riau Islands, Lampung, East Nusa Tenggara, West Papua, Riau, South Sumatra, and North Sumatra.

Four provinces in Sulawesi Island --West Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, Central Sulawesi, and Southeast Sulawesi-- also reported a spike in COVID-19 cases.

In Jakarta alone, the number of recorded COVID-19 cases has exceeded 300 as of December 13, with two cases leading to mortality.

"Two cases of death were recorded on December 1-10, while none were recorded during the December 11-13 period," head of the Surveillance, Epidemiology, and Immunization Section of the DKI Jakarta Health Office, Ngabila Salama, revealed on Thursday (December 14).

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Translator: Rangga Pandu, Tegar Nurfitra
Editor: Tia Mutiasari
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