“Many people are queuing to the lab for testing, but once they learn the price of the test many decide not to take it,” says Eusebius Pantja, an economist at the MINDSET Institute in Indonesia.
“They want to get tests but if they get a positive test they have to stop working. How can they maintain their lives? It limits the incentive to get tested,” adds Aloysius Gunadi Brata, an economist at Atma Jaya Yogyakarta University in Indonesia.
The federal government claims that 84,766 people have died from COVID-19 in Indonesia since the beginning of the pandemic. But Irma Hidayana, a co-founder of Lapor Covid, a collective that gathers and shares information on the pandemic in Indonesia, believes it’s a severe undercount. She along with more than 150 volunteers regularly compile municipal COVID-19 data from 180 cities and 34 provinces. They argue that the federal government has “disappeared” more than 20,000 deaths in the national count, which is far below what lower level governments are reporting.
“Cases right now are soaring because they don’t receive the real information,” says Hidayana. “People don’t understand what is going on in terms of the spread of the virus and how dangerous it is. And then, as a result, they don’t follow the public health social measures.”
‘Maybe they’ve gone bankrupt too’
Since the start of the pandemic, more than 1.12 million Indonesians have been pushed into poverty while working longer hours and risking infection. More than two million people fled crowded cities to work in agriculture.
“Unemployment has not dropped sharply—from 6 percent to 7 percent only. But they’re moving from high productivity jobs to low productivity,” says Faisal Basri, an economist at the University of Indonesia.