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Indonesia's 'Summer Spike': Heat Won't Stop Covid-19's Rise

NEWS | 1 September 2020

The Covid-19 figure in Indonesia continuously climbs up with the dramatic daily spike of confirmed new cases and the highest death toll in Southeast Asia. A hotter climate is definitely not slowing down the virus.

At the end of August, Indonesia recorded the highest confirmed cases of Covid-19 with daily for three days in a row. On 29 August, the country reported a total of 3,308 new cases, the most significant number of infected people ever recorded. This also verified the analysis from WHO that the higher temperature in the outdoors during the dry season is not slowing down the virus to spread to more people.

The case on that Saturday is the highest after the Health Ministry confirmed 2,719 and 3,0003 new cases on the Thursday and Friday preceding. The total cases have increased significantly since the government agency recorded 1,560 in early August with an average of 1,000 daily new cases. The government officials stated that a recent surge in the last days of August was detected after the Covid-19 task force tested 21,166 people. The national rate of confirmed cases rises to 15,6 per cent, accumulated from the positive results from all tests. So far, Indonesia has tested 2,224,337 people with 8,118 tests per one million population.

The confirmed cases of Covid-19 have spiked since the Government decided to reopen the economy to avoid the possibility of a recession during the transition period in July. Many experts saw a higher volume of daily mobility as communities got back to the ‘old normal’ as some economic activities and offices reopened the business. 

Even though people have been urged to follow the health protocols, many of them are not practicing the right containment to prevent the transmission and some of the groups of the community also don’t believe about the danger of the infectious disease. 

Indonesia's national tally is second highest after the Philippines, making the archipelago nation the region ranked 23rd worldwide with the highest death toll in Southeast Asia. On the other hand, the country with 274 million  recorded a lower figure compared to the United States, Pakistan, and Brazil that have a close population number.

The figure of the Covid-19 confirmed cases in August 2020. Source: The Health Ministry of Indonesia

On the last day of August, Indonesia has confirmed 174,796 cases, 7,417 people have died from Covid-19 and 125,959 people have recovered. Since the outbreak reported in Jakarta, the capital city has maintained lower transmission between May and June and saw the surge in July, making Indonesia's capital city the initial and current epicenter of the Covid-19. Indonesia also distributed more test kits in July as the infrastructure and the aid for the testing is more available. Currently, Jakarta recorded the most confirmed cases, followed by East Java, the country’s second epicenter, West Java, East Kalimantan, and Central Java with most figures occurring in Java islands, the densest population in the Indonesia region. 

Summer is not Slowing Down the Potential Transmission

In the analysis of the recent surge, epidemiologists assumed that the spike was caused by the two long weekends for Independence Day on Aug. 17 and Islamic New Year on Aug. 20, which saw increased mobility among the public. The experts and health officials also raised concerns more infection could lead to the threshold on the available capacity of health facilities and infrastructure.

In tradition, Indonesians tend to travel in the month of June to August for summer vacation. Since the measurement for large-scale social restriction loosened in July, the higher mobility during the weekday and the long weekend is unavoidable. As many assumptions stated that hotter temperature during Summer and dry season could lower the potential transmission especially in the outdoor area, the latest report of confirmed cases showed the data in the opposite way as the higher cases have also been seen in Brazil and India during the hot season. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) also stated that there is no valid analysis as well as research that confirmed the premise about the effect of hot temperature on the virus. WHO lists a series of myths about the coronavirus. Among them, the myth about basking in the sun above 25 degrees Celsius could prevent the spread of the Covid-19.

This myth is emphatically rejected by WHO by showing the evidence that countries with warmer climates continue to experience an increase of the Covid-19 every day. Based on the recent study, WHO also ensures the coronavirus can be transmitted in all areas, including areas with hot and humid weather with the highest risk if there is a crowd in the indoor areas.