June 18, 2020, 10.45 PM
A Covid-19 isolation ward in Lamongan, East Java KOMPAS.COM/HAMZAH ARFAHA Covid-19 isolation ward in Lamongan, East Java

JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – The Covid-19 pandemic continues to ravage Indonesia even as the country enters the second, less tight Large Scale Social Restrictions phase known as the New Normal.

The Covid-19 task force announced the country now has 42,762 cases after a record additional 1,331 cases have been found nationwide over the past 24 hours as of June 18.

Indonesia's figure is the highest in ASEAN, surpassing Singapore’s 41,743 cases. Officials said the number includes 2,339 fatalities, as well as 16.798 patients who were confirmed to have recovered.

They said the positive results have been revealed after they tested 20,650 samples June 18. To date, officials tested 580,522 samples from a total of 358,659 people.

A member of the task force, UNS hospital epidemiologist Tonang Dwi Ardyanto attributed the rise to a number of factors.

1. Relaxation of rules

Tonang noted that increased social interaction following the more flexible application of the New Normal rules inevitably increased the chances of infection. Yet he realized that it is a dilemma for the government.

“If we put a brake on all activities, including economic activities, then the country grinds to a halt,” he said on Thursday, June 18. “But if we proceed, the level of infections might surge uncontrollably.”

He added that the government has yet to find the balance between these two possibilities.

2. Unclear government stages and criteria

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