Government Evaluates the Revocation of COVID-19 Emergency Status Following WHO’s Decision

Covid-19 in Indonesia
Covid-19 in Indonesia

The Indonesian government is currently conducting a comprehensive assessment to determine the course of action regarding the revocation of the Covid-19 emergency status in the country. This evaluation comes in the wake of the World Health Organization’s recent decision to lift the global health emergency status for Covid-19 on a global scale.

The government, in collaboration with various epidemiologists, is carefully examining the recommendations put forth by domestic experts, seeking to ascertain the appropriate measures for terminating the health emergency status.

Siti Nadia Tarmizi, the Head of the Bureau of Communication and Public Services, expressed that the government is actively engaged in discussions and consultations with three key coordinating ministers responsible for addressing the Covid-19 crisis: Airlangga Hartarto, the Minister of Economy; Muhadjir Effendy, the Minister of Human Development and Culture; and Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the Minister of Maritime Affairs and Investment.

These ministers play pivotal roles in formulating and executing strategies to combat the pandemic, making their insights and recommendations essential in the decision-making process.

“We are in the process of reporting the recommendations to the coordinating ministers responsible for managing the Covid-19 situation. This ongoing marathon of discussions among the three ministers will eventually lead to conclusive outcomes,” Nadia stated during an interview with journalists on Sunday (5/22/2023).

While the evaluation of lifting the Covid-19 health emergency status is being expedited, Nadia emphasized that the government does not have a predetermined timeline.

She explained that the Ministry of Health’s comprehensive roadmap for the Covid-19 pandemic is continuously evolving, reflecting the dynamic nature of the situation and the need for adaptive strategies.

Nadia also highlighted that Indonesia has already established effective measures for controlling the pandemic. This affirmation was conveyed by the WHO technical team during their March 2023 meeting with the Ministry of Health.

The team commended Indonesia’s efforts in managing the crisis and suggested that the country is well-equipped to consider revoking the health emergency status.

“Although we are capable of lifting the health emergency status, the WHO has advised us to refer to the 2022-2025 preparedness and response strategy. They have urged us to conduct a self-assessment to determine our readiness,” Nadia elaborated.

The World Health Organization officially declared that the Covid-19 pandemic no longer constitutes a global health emergency as of Saturday (5/6/2023).

Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus confirmed that this decision was based on the recommendations presented by the WHO Emergency Committee during its 15th meeting on Thursday (5/4/2023).

The committee’s assessment indicated a declining trend in the pandemic, attributed to the increasing immunity within the population due to widespread vaccinations and previous infections, a reduction in mortality rates, and a decrease in the burden on healthcare systems.

“With great optimism, I announce that I have received the recommendation to lift the Covid-19 health emergency status. Consequently, Covid-19 is no longer classified as a global health emergency,” stated Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus on Sunday (5/21/2023).

It is important to note that the revocation of the Covid-19 health emergency status in Indonesia falls under the jurisdiction of President Joko Widodo. The previous health emergency status was established through Presidential Decree (Keppres) No. 12/2022, and therefore, the revocation must be executed through the issuance of a subsequent Presidential Decree.

Moreover, alongside determining the optimal timing for revoking the health emergency status, Syahril emphasized the importance of addressing the regulations applicable during the pandemic in the new Presidential Decree.

For instance, guidelines pertaining to the mandatory use of masks in enclosed and open spaces should be included. Syahril suggested that once the domestic health emergency status for Covid-19 is lifted, the use of masks should no longer be obligatory, allowing individuals to assess and adjust their mask usage based on their specific circumstances.