Indonesia lifts COVID-19 curbs as cases ease

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Indonesia on Friday removed all remaining domestic COVID-19 restrictions with immediate effect after case numbers in the Southeast Asian nation eased in recent months.

The country became the epicentre of Asia's outbreak in July last year as the Delta variant spread and overwhelmed the healthcare system.

"No more or movement restrictions," President Joko Widodo told a press conference Friday, saying that key pandemic indicators for Indonesia were "below" World Health Organization standards.

But he warned people to remain vigilant, urging them to continue to wear a mask indoors and in crowds even though it would no longer be mandatory.

COVID-19 infections in Indonesia have significantly declined since an Omicron-fuelled surge this year.

New daily cases have been below 1,000 over the past week on average, according to data from a national COVID-19 task force.

Around 98.5 percent of the population have immunity to the virus, the president said, citing a government survey.

"Our immunity is good. So we don't have to do PCR tests at airports," Widodo said.

However, the government will maintain a pandemic-era social aid programme despite the curbs ending, he added.

Restrictions remain in place for foreign travellers entering Indonesia from some countries.

Indonesia's COVID-19 task force chief Suharyanto, who like many Indonesians goes by only one name, said authorities will continue to monitor cases and would decide later whether to ease travel requirements.

"If the situation becomes more under control, we will not rule out the possibility of easing other policies, including health protocol requirements for travellers," Suharyanto told AFP.

Since the onset of the pandemic in early 2020 more than 160,000 people have died from COVID-19 in Indonesia.

More than 174 million Indonesians have been fully vaccinated against the virus, with 68.5 million having received a third dose, according to health ministry data.

© 2022 AFP

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