Ryan Dagur, Jakarta – Timor-Leste is witnessing a significant increase in new cases of Covid-19 as the epicenter of the pandemic has shifted south from capital Dili to Ermera municipality.
Cases reached 160 on July 29 with 80 percent reported from Ermera in the central part of the country. The prevalence of cases in the area stood at 30.3 cases per 100,000 population, six times higher than the national average.
The Catholic-majority country has recorded 10,695 coronavirus cases, with 867 active cases and 26 deaths.
The percentage of new cases has increased by more than 100 percent. From fewer than 50 cases per day until the middle of July, the country is now seeing more than 100 new cases each day, data from the Integrated Center for Crisis Management reveals.
The government has imposed general home confinement for residents of Ermera from July 31 to Aug. 11 but clarified that it will not apply to individuals who are fully vaccinated.
Public transport, religious and other ceremonies, and even funerals involving more than 10 people will be prohibited.
The government continues to ramp up vaccination efforts, with 277,953 persons or 37.4 percent of the population over 18 years having received a first dose, while 89,286 people have received a second dose.
The highest number of people to be vaccinated is in Dili, where 133,016 (63 percent) have received a first dose while 75,889 (37.2 percent) are fully vaccinated.
But in the rest of the country, the percentage is abysmally low at 20 percent. In Ermera, only 8,346 (12.4 percent) have received a first dose, while 894 (1.39 percent) are fully vaccinated.
After the latest spike, the government says it will "pay special attention to increasing vaccinations." It is involving public figures to encourage citizens and dispel any doubts in their minds about being vaccinated.
One of them is Archbishop Dom Virgilio do Carmo da Silva of Dili, whose photo after being vaccinated is displayed in public places with an appeal for citizens to get vaccinated.