Jakarta, IDN Times – Although it is often considered that some variants of COVID-19 show milder symptoms than Delta, Omicron is still deadly. From January 21, 2022 to March 6, 2022, 8,230 patients died during the pandemic, which was dominated by the Omicron variant. In fact, as many as three percent or 265 of the patients were aged 0-5 years or toddlers.
“When viewed from the age range, it turns out that three percent of patients are in the age range 0-5 years. Then, 82 percent of patients are over the age of 45 years,” said the Coordinator of Emerging Infectious Disease Substances, Directorate of Health Surveillance and Quarantine, Directorate General of P2P, Ministry of Health, Endang Budi Hastuti, when speaking in a webinar, Thursday (10/3/2022).
He also explained that from the data held by the Ministry of Health, as many as 51 percent of the patients who died had congenital diseases. Then 56 percent of the patients who died were also elderly and 70 percent of them had not received the two-dose vaccination.
“This proves that complete vaccination can prevent severity (if exposed to COVID-19) and death,” he said.
He added that the elderly who were infected with COVID-19 had a 3.5 times greater risk of dying than those who were exposed and non-elderly. “The risk is even higher in the elderly, who mostly have comorbidities such as diabetes mellitus, kidney failure, and hypertension. This further shows the importance of vaccination in the elderly and those with comorbidities,” said Endang.
With the death rate still high, is Indonesia really ready to enter the transition phase to endemic?
1. The high death rate shows that COVID-19 should not be underestimated
Meanwhile, the Expert Board of the Indonesian Society of Public Health Experts (IAKMI) Hermawan Saputra said the high mortality rate due to Omicron indicated that the quality of treatment was not appropriate, late and there must have been leaks in the screening process. The number of deaths that reached 8,230, said Hermawan, showed the government should not underestimate COVID-19, whatever the variant.
“Even the Omicron, which we often take for granted, when accumulated, the results show that there have been more than 8,000 deaths. If we take a total of two years of the COVID-19 journey in Indonesia, there are more than 148,000 people who died. With a record, when compared with morbidity, meaning case fatality in Indonesia around 2.66 percent. So, very high,” said Hermawan when contacted IDN Times, March 2, 2022.
He also questioned the government’s statement that often mentions the Omicron variant only causes mild symptoms. Whereas, in fact, the daily death rate reaches more than 300 patients. Supposedly, if Omicron was really lighter, the death rate could be reduced to 0.
“Meaning, right here there is a diagnostic process, screening that is delayed or also tends to be degrading. It could also be that the actual number of cases in the field is much higher than reported. Because the mortality rate shows the quality of health services,” he said.
Also Read: Experts: 5,013 Patients Died, Omicron Signs Can’t Be Taken lightly
2. The government is still considered to be underestimating COVID-19
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Hermawan assessed that since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, the government had underestimated this disease. However, two years on, that attitude has not changed.
This can be seen from the statements made by officials in the country, ranging from Omicron not more severe than the Delta variant, low mortality, the majority of patients infected with Omicron only show mild symptoms, to resemble the common cold.
“But, if we look at the accumulated deaths, reaching more than 8,000. I’m not saying the government was negligent, but the communication model that was built cannot be underestimated, while there are thousands of lives that have been lost,” said Hermawan.
He also stressed that there was no benefit for the government to repeatedly compare the victims that occurred in the Omicron wave with the Delta. This is because, in fact, the daily cases are increasing significantly and sporadically. So, the government should focus on morbidity or morbidity.
Instead of being dismissive, Hermawan suggested that the government build a communication model and increase public awareness so that they are alert to COVID-19. “It’s true, panic is not important, but don’t stop the public from panicking, but even underestimate it. That’s an inappropriate communication pattern,” he said.
One of the disparaging statements that Hermawan referred to was when the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan actually encouraged the public to do activities outside their homes as long as they had been vaccinated. booster. In fact, one of the health protocols is to limit mobility and stay away from crowds or crowds.
3. Only seven provinces where the coverage of two-dose vaccination is more than 60 percent
Furthermore, the Ministry of Health said the risk of transmitting COVID-19, especially to vulnerable groups, could be higher. This is because in all of Indonesia, only seven provinces have more than 60 percent coverage of the two-dose vaccination. The remaining 27 provinces are still below 60 percent.
The seven provinces with more than 60 percent coverage of two doses are DKI Jakarta, Yogyakarta, Bali, Riau Islands, West Java, Central Java, and the Belitung Islands. “We hope for other regions that efforts will continue to accelerate their achievement (two-dose vaccination). The provincial government must develop a strategy to achieve two-dose vaccination coverage,” said Endang.
In the webinar, Endang specifically said that the World Health Organization (WHO) had not declared the COVID-19 pandemic to be over. He also said that endemic is not just a safe condition because there is still a risk of transmission, illness and even death due to COVID-19. So, preventive measures must be taken.
“Countries that have relaxed (tightening) restrictions do not mention in official documents that their countries have entered an endemic phase. The pandemic is not over yet, but social restrictions have been relaxed,” he said.
Also Read: COVID-19 Task Force: Only WHO Has Authority To Determine Endemic Status