Dina Manafe, Jakarta – The number of coronavirus infections in Indonesia is expected to increase significantly next week as many people have ignored physical distancing guidelines during the Idul Fitri holidays.
National Covid-19 Task Force spokesman Achmad Yurianto said the large number of people violating the health protocol during the Islamic holidays on Sunday and Monday will more than likely result in new confirmed cases next week, a prediction based on the average incubation period of the virus.
"Confirmed cases will explode next week due to the many gatherings that occurred yesterday and today," Achmad said in Jakarta on Monday.
He said the task force had stressed before Idul Fitri that people must still follow public health guidelines during the two-day holiday when people normally visit families and relatives.
The guidelines include orders to avoid public gatherings, always wear a face mask when outside the home, frequently wash hands with soap and observe physical distancing.
But many people have ignored the guidelines during the Idul Fitri holidays, Achmad said.
Tri Wahyono, an epidemiologist from the University of Indonesia, said Idul Fitri traditions of congregating with family members and shaking hands for forgiveness could undermine the government's physical distancing policy and lead to a spike in the number of coronavirus infections.
"Human-to-human transmissions will spread rapidly in severely affected areas such as Greater Jakarta," he said.
Asymptomatic carriers could easily spread the disease to unsuspecting communities, he said. Tri said up to four people out of 20 who make contact with positive cases will be infected by the virus.
Reduced testing capacity, as many laboratories took a break during the holidays, may also contribute to a spike in coronavirus cases next week.
"The prediction that cases will peak in early June and reach a plateau in August is very likely to be missed," he said. The epidemiologist said the final number of cases will surpass the projected 32,000.