Tanjungpinang: Indonesia is currently in the process of transitioning from the COVID-19 pandemic to the endemic phase, Minister of Health, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, has said.
"The transition to endemic is being done gradually, not in one go," he said in Tanjungpinang, Riau Islands, on Wednesday.
The efforts made by the government to achieve this include the relaxation of the health protocols, which were previously very strict. COVID-19 tests are also no longer required, and people can opt to not wear masks outdoors, he noted.
This policy will indirectly encourage people to follow the health protocols of their own volition, he said.
"All infectious diseases which have turned to endemic, one of the characteristics is that each person already understands what the disease is, maintains adherence to the health protocols, and (ways) to address it if they have been exposed," he disclosed.
Sadikin said that despite the relaxation of the mask rule while outdoors, people are being asked to adjust to the situation: if they are in a crowded environment or see friends around them with symptoms such as fever, coughing, and sneezing, they must wear masks to avoid the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
"If you feel safe and comfortable, you may just remove the mask," he added.
Reiterating President Joko Widodo's message, he said that Indonesians have shown good discipline in the use of masks, thereby helping control the spread of COVID-19.
Currently, the number of COVID-19 cases in the country has shown a decline, with almost no patients in hospitals and a low death rate.
"President Jokowi (Widodo) has just returned from America. In that country, the COVID-19 handling in Indonesia has been commended after it succeeded in reducing cases significantly," the minister added.