Webinar on “Indonesia’s Public Health Issues and Challenges During the COVID-19 Pandemic”

In this webinar, Dr Pandu Riono gives an update on the COVID-19 situation in Indonesia, including key policy issues and challenges to strengthen Indonesia’s public health infrastructure capacity.


Tuesday, 12 May 2020 – ISEAS invited Dr Pandu Riono, an epidemiologist from the Faculty of Public Health, University of Indonesia, to discuss the COVID-19 situation in Indonesia and the effectiveness of current government policies in dealing with the pandemic. Dr Riono suggested the government to have balanced policies on public health and socio-economic mitigation. The webinar was moderated by ISEAS Senior Fellow Dr Siwage Dharma Negara.

Dr Pandu Riono (right) discusses key policy issues and challenges to strengthen Indonesia’s public health infrastructure capacity in light of the COVID-19 situation. Dr Siwage Dharma Negara moderated the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)

To begin, Dr Riono showed the risk scores of provinces in Indonesia based on national survey data. While all provinces were reported to have cases of COVID-19 infection, most of the cases occur in Java, where West Java has become the riskiest province. Although the social distancing policy has increased the time spent at home and reduced travel, Dr Riono observed that there was an increasing transmission of the disease at the islands outside Java with the loosening transportation policy.

Drawing upon a prediction model of pandemic curves which shows the estimated numbers of cases who need hospitalization, Dr Riono analyzed data on COVID-19 cases in six provinces in Indonesia and found that the peak period would be in May 2020. Looking at the current trend of infection, he argued that the government should not consider herd immunity as a way to deal with the new coronavirus.

The pandemic is occurring in coincidence with the biggest exodus in the country where more than 800,000 people are returning to their hometown for celebrating Idul Fitri after the holy month of Ramadan, or so-called mudik. Dr Riono predicted that the curve would only begin to flatten nationally from July, assuming if people do not ‘mudik’. Moreover, the post-mudik period –when people come back to the city— would likely result in a higher transmission around the Jakarta area. He suggested the government to consider lifting the restriction only after Idul Fitri period ends.

More than 92 participants attended the webinar. Some questions raised during the Q&A session include people’s immunity to infection (herd immunity), demographic trends and disease transmission data, the effectiveness of the large-scale social restriction (PSBB), and government’s plans to reopen the economy. Follow-up questions on mudik and post-mudik periods were also raised.

More than 92 participants attended the webinar. (Credit: ISEAS – Yusof Ishak Institute)