Indonesia’s 10,000-Strong Event Is Test of Life With Covid
As many as 10,000 people attended the opening ceremony of Indonesia’s first major sports event since its worst Covid-19 outbreak -- a test of its strategy of living with the virus.
The national sporting week called PON started Saturday at the newly renovated stadium in the eastern city of Jayapura, with the number of spectators meeting the 25% maximum capacity set by the domestic affairs ministry. Spectators have to be tested before entering the venue, wear masks and maintain social distancing, according to the ministry.
Normal activities are starting to return in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy as its coronavirus cases and deaths are brought under control. That’s a stark contrast to just a month ago, when the country was reporting the world’s highest number of coronavirus deaths each day. The country added 1,414 cases on Saturday and 89 deaths from the virus.
Now, the government is seeking to rely on a combination of testing, health protocols and vaccination to keep any new resurgence of cases under control.
Large-scale public events like PON will put that plan to the test at a time when vaccination coverage is still low. Less than 20% of Indonesians are fully inoculated. In Papua province, where the sporting event is being held, just 11% of people have gotten both shots.
The government is boosting efforts to speed up vaccination as it expects an “inevitable” resurgence in cases caused by new variants before the end of the year. For now, the numbers are heartening. The nation added 87 deaths on Friday, down from a record of over 2,000 a day in late July, when the highly infectious delta variant ravaged across the nation of 270 million people and crippled its health-care system.
©2021 Bloomberg L.P.