Ridwan said that many subdistricts in West Java had turned from COVID-19 red zones to green zones, which means the transmission in the area has been largely controlled and therefore, the areas could start adapting to the new protocols.Pepen revealed that 50 out of 56 subdistricts in Bekasi had been declared green zones including North Bekasi subdistrict where the Summarecon Mall is located.He added that the virus transmission rate in the city had decreased as a result of the city administration’s implementation of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB).“That’s why the virus is less contagious here with an R0 of 0.71 [less than one person on average is being infected by other infected people] and we’re gradually reopening the economy,” Pepen said. He said that malls in Bekasi were allowed to open on June 4 at the earliest, but are required to operate at 50 percent of their capacity.“For example, if the normal capacity is 10,000, now they should only allow 5,000 people to enter. The security will count and limit the number of mall visitors,” Ridwan said, adding that all visitors must wear masks.The director of PT Summarecon Agung, Adrianto Adhi, said that his management was currently preparing the COVID-19 precautions in adherence to the new normal guidelines issued by Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto on Saturday.The management plans to open Summarecon Mall on June 8.Earlier on Tuesday, Jokowi announced that TNI and National Police personnel would be deployed to guard crowded places such as malls in preparation for the new normal.Topics : President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo visited Summarecon Mall in Bekasi, West Java, on Tuesday to take a look at the mall’s preparations for its upcoming reopening under the so-called “new normal” health protocols.“I come to Bekasi today to ensure our readiness for the ‘new normal’ as we want to stay productive while also remaining protected from the virus at the same time,” Jokowi said.The President visited the mall along with West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil, Bekasi Mayor Rahmat “Pepen” Effendi, Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto and National Police chief Gen. Idham Aziz.
The number of coronavirus cases worldwide topped six million Sunday, with Brazil registering another record surge in daily infections as divisions deepened on how to deal with the pandemic.Latin American countries are bracing for difficult weeks ahead as the disease spreads rapidly across the region, even as much of the world exits lockdowns that have wrecked economies and stripped millions of their jobs. In Brazil — the epicenter of South America’s outbreak with nearly 500,000 confirmed cases, lagging only behind the United States — disagreement among leaders over lockdown measures has hampered efforts to slow the virus as the number of fatalities in the country nears 30,000. President Jair Bolsonaro, who fears the economic fallout from stay-at-home measures will be worse than the virus, has berated governors and mayors for imposing what he calls “the tyranny of total quarantine”. As the global death toll from the pandemic surpassed 368,000, US President Donald Trump’s decision to permanently cut funding to the World Health Organization has been broadly criticised.The number of confirmed cases worldwide is more than six million, according to an AFP tally.”Now is the time for enhanced cooperation and common solutions,” the European Union said in a statement, adding: “Actions that weaken international results must be avoided.” Topics : Trump initially suspended funding to the WHO last month, accusing it of not doing enough to curb the early spread of the virus and being too lenient with China, where COVID-19 emerged late last year.On Friday he moved to make that decision permanent in a major blow to the agency. The US is the WHO’s biggest contributor, supplying $400 million last year.German Health Minister Jens Spahn said the “disappointing” decision was a setback for global health, while Chancellor Angela Merkel declined to attend an in-person G7 summit that Trump had suggested he would host.Richard Horton, editor of The Lancet medical journal, said it was “madness and terrifying both at the same time”.Lockdowns easeAs the virus progresses at different speeds around the globe, there has been pressure in many countries to lift crippling lockdowns, despite experts’ warnings of a possible second wave of infections.In Britain, which is set to begin lifting its lockdown on Monday, senior advisors to the government warned that it was moving too quickly. “COVID-19 spreading too fast to lift lockdown in England,” tweeted Jeremy Farrar, a member of the government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies. India said Saturday it would begin relaxing the world’s biggest lockdown in stages from early June, even as it marked another record daily rise in infections.Iran meanwhile announced that collective prayers would resume in mosques, despite infections ticking back upwards in the Middle East’s hardest-hit country.Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque compound — the third-holiest site in Islam after Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia — reopened to worshippers on Sunday. With infection numbers falling in many of Europe’s most affected countries, the push to restart economies was gaining steam.Italy’s Leaning Tower of Pisa reopened on Saturday, while in Paris, parks and the famed Galeries Lafayette department store flung open their doors.In Austria, hotels and cinemas were allowed to take in customers, provided they wear masks.”It is very important that things return to normal,” film buff Rotraud Turanitz said at Vienna’s historic Admiral Kino cinema on trendy Burggasse.Across the Atlantic, the US capital Washington resumed outdoor dining, while on the West Coast, restaurants and hair salons in Los Angeles reopened. New York City, the worst-hit American city with about 21,500 coronavirus deaths, is on track to begin reopening the week of June 8. The overall US death toll has topped 103,000 out of more than 1.7 million cases of the virus. Global sport has also started to rev back into action, with Austria announcing it will host Formula One’s delayed season-opener on July 5, and the NBA eyeing a July 31 return.Britain approved the return of domestic competitive sport on June 1 — with no fans present — while South Africa has given a provisional green light for training to resume.Economies shatteredBut the economic damage from weeks of lockdowns continues to pile up, with Chile and Peru securing credit lines worth billions from the IMF.India’s economy grew at its slowest pace in two decades in the first quarter, while Canada, Brazil, France and Italy also saw their GDP figures shrink ahead of an expected worldwide recession.As the virus hits the world’s poor particularly hard, Pope Francis called for a “more just and equitable society” in the post-coronavirus world and for people to act to “end the pandemic of poverty”.Even the animal world has not been left untouched by the pandemic.Gibraltar has banned tourists from touching the British enclave’s famous Barbary macaques over fears they could spread coronavirus.Singapore’s beloved otters meanwhile have been popping up in unexpected places during the city-state’s lockdown, but their increasingly daring antics have angered some and even sparked calls for a cull.”I simply don’t understand anyone who could not like them. They are really cute,” said 35-year-old Singaporean Pam Wong.
If there had to be just one silver lining to the pandemic that has swept through most of the world, most people stuck at home would point to an increased awareness of their personal health.Eager to stay fit during these difficult times, millions of people have decided to exercise from the comfort of their own homes.Sports physician Andi Kurniawan said the COVID-19 outbreak had raised people’s awareness of health, as more and more people understand the importance of strengthening their immune system. “People are more aware that it is so important to maintain our immune system so we can’t be easily infected,” he said.For people like Ratna Puspitasari and Marco Puli Sandy, who have been using their spare time sheltering at home for the past two months to get into the habit of exercise, the quarantine has triggered a significant change in their pursuit of health.“Before the quarantine started, I always felt tired of making time to exercise during the weekday. So I just spend 15 to 20 minutes on the weekend to exercise,” said 26-year-old Ratna, who works for a start-up in the Indonesian capital Jakarta.“And now as I work from home, I can exercise every day.” Inspiration doesn’t even have to begin with the individual.After poring through Youtube, Ratna said she found a variety of workout channels that helped her set up a personal exercise regimen to do from the comfort of her rooming house.She even designed a detailed workout program for every day of the week, combining simple and short workouts during the weekdays with longer and more intense workouts on the weekends – all geared to help her stay fit throughout quarantine.“On the weekdays, I do exercises that aren’t too time-consuming, like a 15-minute full body stretch or morning yoga. Whereas on the weekends, I do a combination of practices from yoga to HIIT,” she said, referring to High Intensity Interval Training.“The motivation comes from within. In the beginning, it was more like I forced myself to exercise because I wasn’t feeling healthy,” she said.“Additionally, I started a clean eating program at the end of last year, so I needed to accompany it with exercise.”While Ratna takes pleasure in exercising in her own room, Marco said he likes to jog around his housing complex and play some basketball with his brother once in a while to add some variety into his exercise routine.On the weekdays, the private company employee said he liked to do a 7-minute cardio workout which he combines with strength exercises such as push-ups and pull-ups.“I almost have no social life nowadays because I cannot go anywhere [due to the pandemic]. It’s quite stressful actually. Before the pandemic, I used to go to the cinema or hang out with my friends to destress,” he said.“[Since I can’t do any of those things], I feel like exercising helps me to manage [that stress]. Now I’m used to exercising almost every day.”With millions of people worldwide going into quarantine for months, sheltering in place from COVID-19 has resulted in its own health crisis, as people are forced to stave off social engagement.The uncertainty still lingers for both Marco and Ratna, who admitted that they had been left with nothing to do about creeping anxiety other than to keep a positive mental attitude.“Now, if I feel stressed out I am willing to admit that I’m not in a good condition. But then I am able to focus on resolving [the issues] one at a time,” Marco said.“We do whatever it takes to stay sane.”Both Marco and Ratna have also promised themselves that they would maintain their exercise habits even when the pandemic ends.“I need and must maintain this habit. I used to wake up at 7 a.m. and immediately prepare for work, but now with regular exercise, I can adjust my sleeping time and wake up earlier,” Ratna said.“Without realizing it, exercise has become a habit, even if I just do it for 5 to 15 minutes during weekdays.”As for the current large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in place, they have limited the number of options to exercise at gyms and other sporting facilities are closed.But Andi suggested that people should not be tempted to just lie in bed or sit in isolation for long hours.“The thing with isolation is people are more likely to lie in bed. But we have to stay active. For instance, every one hour when we sit, we need to stretch for five minutes.“A little stretching or moving our body while in isolation is enough as calories continue to burn. Cleaning the house or following a Youtube tutorial on exercise are also good for beginners,” he said.Topics :
George Floyd, whose fatal encounter with Minneapolis police stirred a global outcry over racial bias by US law enforcement, tested positive for the coronavirus, his autopsy showed, but the infection was not listed as a factor in his death.The official cause of death, according to the full 20-page report made public on Wednesday by the Hennepin County Medical Examiner’s Office, was cardiopulmonary arrest while Floyd was being restrained by police taking him into custody on May 25.The coroner ruled the manner of death to be a homicide. Four police officers since fired from their jobs for their role in the incident, which was captured on a bystander’s cellphone video, are being held on criminal charges, one of them accused of murder. The video showed that officer using his knee to press Floyd’s neck into the street for nearly nine minutes while the 46-year-old victim gasped for air and repeatedly groaned, “please, I can’t breathe.” Floyd was pronounced dead at a hospital a short time later.The video immediately went viral on the internet, igniting nine days of nationwide protest and civil strife. Demonstrators have also taken to the streets overseas, from Germany to New Zealand.The autopsy, in listing cardiopulmonary arrest as the cause of Floyd’s death, also cited “complicating law enforcement subdual, restraint and neck compression.”The report listed several additional factors as “significant conditions” contributing to Floyd’s death, including heart disease, high blood pressure and intoxication from the powerful opioid fentanyl, as well as recent methamphetamine use. The report further noted that a nasal swab sample collected from Floyd’s body came back positive for COVID-19, and that Floyd had also tested positive on April 3, nearly eight weeks before his death.The county’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Andrew Baker, concluded that the post mortem test result “most likely reflects asymptomatic but persistent … positivity from previous infection.” There was no indication in the autopsy report that coronavirus played any role in Floyd’s death.Dr. Michael Baden, one of two medical examiners who conducted a private autopsy for Floyd’s family, told the New York Times that county officials never told him, or the funeral director, that Floyd had tested positive for COVID-19. Topics :
A serial underwear thief was sentenced to nearly six months in jail Monday for breaching Singapore’s strict coronavirus lockdown to sneak into a backyard and steal women’s lingerie. Lee Chee Kin was on bail on similar charges when he snuck out of home last month and climbed into a backyard on the hunt for more underwear. The 39-year-old had stolen underwear from homes on at least 30 occasions since 2018, according to court documents, and police found more than 100 bras during a raid on his home last year. He admitted last month to breaking lockdown rules by leaving his residence without good reason, and failing to wear a mask outside. He also pleaded guilty to theft and criminal trespass, and was sentenced to 23 weeks in jail.Lee’s lawyer told the court that the former part-time actor was a “late bloomer”.A prosecutor previously told the court that Lee “would select bras and panties to steal based on their appearance”, and that he used them “for his own sexual gratification.” Singapore authorities imposed a partial lockdown in early April, with schools and most workplaces told to close, and people only allowed to leave home for essential purposes. Topics :
Conte ‘not worried’ “The things I have to say to the prosecutor, I will say to the prosecutor — I don’t want to anticipate,” he said.”I will conscientiously set out all the facts of which I have knowledge. I am not at all worried.”All investigations are welcome. The citizens have the right to know and we have the right to reply.”The team, lead by chief prosecutor Maria Cristina Rota, has already questioned senior officials in Lombardy region, who say it was up to Rome to decide whether certain areas should be shut.The region’s health minister, Giulio Gallera, has said it was clear from February 23 that there were a lot of cases in the areas around Nembro and Alzano, towns in the Bergamo province.But the government failed to act, he said.Conte replied that “if Lombardy had wanted to, it could have made Alzano and Nembro red zones”.Codogno was closed on February 21. Lombardy and 14 provinces in the neighboring regions of Veneto, Piedmont and Emilia Romagna followed on March 8, and the whole of Italy shut down two days later.But a scientific committee advising the government and the national health institute had warned in early March 3 that the towns should be locked down, according to the Corriere della Sera. Prosecutors are to question Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte and the health and interior ministers over how the government handled the coronavirus pandemic, news agencies reported Wednesday.The prosecutors from Bergamo, the city in the northern Lombardy region worst hit by the virus, have launched an investigation into the crisis, which has killed over 34,000 people in Italy.They are looking in particular at why a red zone was not enforced in February around the towns of Nembro and Alzano. Regional officials and the government blame each other for the failure. Salvini denounces ‘lies’ Fifty relatives of coronavirus victims — members of the “Noi Denunceremo” (We Will Denounce) committee — filed complaints with the Bergamo prosecutors earlier Wednesday over the handling of the pandemic. It is the first such legal group action in Italy.”If it hadn’t been so disorganized, if [the province of] Bergamo had been made into a red zone earlier, perhaps the hospitals would not have been driven to collapse,” said Monica Plazzoli, whose husband Armando died of the virus.Far-right opposition leader Matteo Salvini, head of the League party which governs Lombardy, on Wednesday welcomed the investigation.”After so many lies and shameful attacks, justice has been done: those who have made mistakes must pay,” he said.Andrea Orlando of the center-left Democratic Party (PD), part of the government coalition, rebuked Salvini for using “a painful situation for propaganda”.It was normal procedure for prosecutors to speak with institutional representatives, he said. Italy was the first European country to be ravaged by the virus. The government imposed the country’s first red zone, around the town of Codogno, 24 hours after doctors discovered a patient positive for COVID-19.It went on to shut down 10 other towns, and then large areas of the north, before imposing a nationwide lockdown.Speaking to journalists on Wednesday evening, Conte said he would be interviewed by prosecutors on Friday. Topics :
Deputy Foreign Affairs Minister Mahendra Siregar says the country has become more independent in producing medical gear and other health equipment, including personal protective equipment (PPE), thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.He said this was achieved within about three months of the novel coronavirus outbreak hitting the country.”Now we have [health equipment] producers in every part of the production line, from supplying raw materials to manufacturing finished goods. The products also adhere to the international standards from the World Health Organization,” Mahendra said in a virtual discussion on Wednesday. He said the country recorded in May its lowest non-oil-and-gas exports for the last ten years.Statistics Indonesia (BPS) previously announced that the country’s export plunged 28.95 percent year-on-year (yoy) in May to US$10.53 billion, the lowest since July 2016, due to falling shipments of coal, coffee and palm oil. Oil and gas exports were down 42.6 percent yoy at $650 million.”The World Trade Organization has predicted that the world will face a 6 percent economic recession due to the pandemic, deeper than previously predicted. Global trade is also expected to drop 25 to 30 percent this year. We already feel the impact,” said Mahendra.The deputy minister said he was still sure the country could manage to recover from the current crisis, as it had done to recover from the 1997-1998 Asian Financial Crisis.“The crisis was severe at that time, because it hit not only the economy. However, Indonesia managed to turn the crisis into opportunities. I’m very sure we can do the same this time,” Mahendra said.Topics : He added the pandemic had disrupted global value chains for health equipment and PPE because most countries depended on very few other countries producing them. Mahendra called it “an unacceptable risk” that resulted in a global shortage of PPE and medicine.“Thanks to joint efforts between the government and businesspeople, we have managed to [build upstream and downstream industries] for health equipment.”Read also: Govt revokes export ban on PPE amid oversupplyThe deputy minister said he remained optimistic that the pandemic would also create new opportunities, even though COVID-19 had hit the country’s economy hard.
Barcelona gave up more ground to Real Madrid in La Liga’s title race on Tuesday after being held to a 2-2 draw at home to third-placed Atletico Madrid as a late penalty from Saul Niguez cancelled out Lionel Messi’s 700th career goal.The draw meant the Catalans stayed second in the standings on 70 points and leaders Real Madrid, who have 71, will go four points clear at the top with five games left if they beat Getafe at home on Thursday.Barca went ahead at an empty Camp Nou in the 11th minute when Atletico striker Diego Costa knocked Messi’s delivery from a corner into his own net. Topics : The Catalans desperately needed to win after twice throwing away the lead to draw 2-2 with Celta Vigo on Saturday but history repeated itself as Quique Setien’s side failed to sparkle against a determined Atletico who are unbeaten since the season resumed.”It’s very hard to try and fight for the title when you drop points two matches in a row but we’ll keep going until the end,” said Barca midfielder Sergio Busquets.As well as defending with their usual steel, Diego Simeone’s side caused Barca plenty of problems down the wings due to the pace of Yannick Carrasco and their man-of-the-moment Marcos Llorente, who is enjoying a new lease of life as a forward.Belgian winger Carrasco won both penalties for Atletico, out-foxing Arturo Vidal in the first half and then proving too quick for Nelson Semedo.Saul had sent Ter Stegen the wrong way to score his first equalizer but the German guessed the right way in their second duel from the spot. The ball, however, squirmed through his hands and crept in off post.Barca coach Setien left former Atletico forward Antoine Griezmann out of his starting team for the second game in a row and turned to the 120-million-euro man in stoppage time, but the Frenchman had barely any time to provide the desired reaction. Saul leveled soon after from the spot after the referee ordered a re-take when Costa’s initial penalty was saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen who had strayed from his line.Barcelona then earned a penalty soon after the interval which Argentine Messi coolly converted for a remarkable 700th strike for club and country, only for Saul to strike again from the spot in the 62nd to earn a share of the points.”It’s a real shame and the league title is looking much harder for us with each game,” said Barca coach Quique Setien, whose side have drawn three of their six games since the campaign resumed after the coronavirus stoppage.”Dropping these points in reality pushes us further away from the title but we have to keep on working hard.”
As Indonesia struggles to contain the COVID-19 epidemic, the country, like many others, is pinning its hopes on vaccine development.Indonesia is looking to secure access to candidate vaccines, with its diplomats and local companies seeking cooperation with producers such as Sinovac Biotech of China and Genexine Inc. of South Korea, as well as the Bill Gates-backed Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI).Meanwhile, for a longer-term, self-sufficient strategy, a national consortium under the Research and Technology Ministry is working on developing its own vaccine, helmed by the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology. The vaccine will be named after Indonesia’s flag colors, Merah Putih, or red and white. Kusnandi said the previous first two stages of trials showed a few minor side effects, such as swelling and pain in the injection area as well as fever. All volunteers in the phase III trials, therefore, would be insured so that they could receive free treatment if they were to develop complaints, he said. Kusnandi said the vaccine would be gradually given to all the subjects, estimating 25 subjects per day for five days a week at each of the six trial centers.Read also: Indonesian COVID-19 vaccines to undergo strict human, animal testingBio Farma said it was expecting the preliminary results of the clinical trials to be submitted for emergency use authorization by the Indonesian Food and Drug Monitoring Agency (BPOM) by the first quarter of 2021. Topics : He was referring to the process of producing recombinant proteins by isolating genes of the spike protein and nucleocapsid protein and inserting them into mammalian cells. The team, comprising around 10 young researchers, is now waiting for the cells to reproduce the recombinant proteins, which might take two months, before isolating, purifying and testing the proteins on animals. The Merah Putih vaccine, meanwhile, is a recombinant vaccine. It is a type that “includes only the components, or antigens, that best stimulate the immune system” that can make vaccines safer and minimize side effects, according to the United States’ National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. The clinical trial research team leader, Unpad professor Kusnandi Rusmil, told The Jakarta Post that about 500 people had applied for the trials, which involve at least 30 doctors and 20 specialist doctors. The vaccines under development mentioned fall into different types. The Merah Putih vaccine, Amin said, was expected to cover at least 50 percent of Indonesia’s vaccine needs, given the country’s large population. The Sinovac vaccine is an inactivated virus vaccine, a traditional category of vaccines which consists of entire pathogens that have been killed with chemicals, heat or radiation. Hence, this type cannot cause diseases but still has antigens to elicit an immune response, experts said. Should the applicants pass the administrative and other preliminary procedures, the team will administer them with the first dose of the experimental vaccine or a placebo, and then a second dose of the vaccine 14 days later. What vaccine types will be offered? Bio Farma and Unpad are now recruiting 1,620 volunteers — all of whom must be healthy adults between the age of 18 and 59 years old with no history of having contracted COVID-19 — to participate in the clinical trials. The team is making a vaccine specifically for the virus strain spread in Indonesia, which, according to Amin, has similarities to the strain circulating around Asia. The company said it would produce 40 million doses for the first batch of vaccine, but the number would increase gradually as the company aims to see its production capacity reach 250 million doses per year by the end of this year. Indonesia is launching the phase III trials — the last stage of clinical testing in humans during which the vaccine is given to thousands of people to confirm and expand results on safety and efficacy from phase I and II trials — along with several countries like Brazil and Bangladesh. The Genexine vaccine is a DNA vaccine which will also be administered twice. According to the WHO, this type of vaccine is a rather new invention that offers “potential advantages over traditional approaches”, such as improved vaccine stability and the absence of any infectious agents. The Sinovac phase III clinical trials in Bandung are to run for six months. As for the Merah Putih vaccine, Eijkman director Amin Soebandrio said his team was now entering the “critical” process that would “determine the success of the vaccine in the future”. All of these attempts are progressing at different paces, while also offering various timelines, production targets and types of vaccines. But they are expected to complement each other, given the broad need to cover Indonesia’s large population of some 270 million people.How is the progress so far?State-owned pharmaceutical company PT Bio Farma has partnered with Sinovac, with the former soon to be launching phase III clinical trials in humans of a Sinovac vaccine alongside Padjadjaran University (Unpad) in Bandung, West Java.It is one of 26 candidate vaccines that are in clinical evaluation according to a compilation made by the World Health Organization (WHO) on July 31. There are 139 candidate vaccines in preclinical evaluation. Bio Farma is also deliberating a contract with the Bill Gates-backed CEPI, with no decision yet made on the number of vaccines that it would “fill and finish” during the manufacturing process, Bio Farma’s R&D project integration manager Neni Nurainy told the Post.Read also: Indonesia teams up with global manufacturers in vaccine huntMeanwhile, homegrown health giant Kalbe Farma is cooperating with Genexine for the trials of Genexine’s DNA vaccine GX-19. Indonesia is expected to run phase II clinical trials for the potential vaccine in September or October, continuing from the phase I trials underway in South Korea until August. What are the timelines and production targets? This vaccine must be injected twice to develop immunity. The government, meanwhile, has given Eijkman 12 months starting from April to develop vaccine prototypes that have been tested on animals, to be given to Bio Farma for clinical trials. Bio Farma aims to mass-produce the vaccine by 2022 after earning approval from the BPOM.
Publicly listed state-owned metal miner PT Aneka Tambang (Antam) has seen its net profit sink 80 percent year-on-year (yoy) to Rp 84.8 billion (US$5.82 million) in the first half of the year, dragged down by poor nickel and ferronickel sales but anchored by gold sales, according to its half-year financial report. Antam’s revenue fell 36 percent to Rp 9.2 trillion, while its costs fell by nearly the same percentage at 35.6 percent to Rp 7.9 trillion over the same period.“Antam’s reported financial performance has been in decline throughout the PSBB, especially its net profit. […] Antam has been more reliant on its gold bar volumes,” analyst Nafan Aji of Binaartha Parama Sekuritas told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. He was referring to the large-scale social restrictions policy that was introduced in four months ago in response to the COVID-19 health crisis.Read also: Gold price surge blessing in disguise for IndonesiaTechnically a partial lockdown, several regions across the country implemented the PSBB in early April in an effort to curb the spread of the coronavirus. The restrictions included self-quarantine, work from home and study at home policies, as well as enforced the temporary closure of offices, retail outlets and factories. In early June, despite record numbers of COVID-19 cases per day, the government started easing the PSBB to gradually reopen the economy to cushion the economic impacts of the epidemic. On Tuesday, official data showed 1,922 new cases of the disease, bringing the cumulative total to 115,056 cases with more than 5,300 COVID-19 deaths. The country surpassed 100,000 cases on July 27 amid the government’s transition to the “new normal” phase of its disease management policy in reopening the economy.The drop in Antam’s first-half revenue was led by poor sales of nickel ore, which plunged 94 percent yoy to Rp 89.3 billion following the government’s landmark ban on nickel ore exports in January. Nickel ore had fallen in the first half from being the miner’s third best-selling product in 2019 to become its fifth best-selling product because of the ban.Antam said in a statement that it hoped to recoup its nickel ore sales margin in the domestic market, referring to the government’s plans to expand Indonesia’s downstream nickel industry and to regulate the domestic selling price of nickel ore.Read also: Gold prices hit $2,000 an ounce for first time“[The regulation] will create a competitive pricing structure for domestic minerals amid a positive outlook on domestic absorption, especially for nickel ore commodities,” said Antam corporate secretary Kunto Hendrapawoko.In contrast, gold played a bigger role in Antam’s half-year sales revenue, its contribution increasing from 68 percent in 2019 to 69.4 percent this year.Antam also reported that its half-year gold sales volume fell 50 percent yoy to 7,915 kilograms, but that gold sales revenue fell softer by 33 percent yoy to Rp 6.4 trillion, propped up by higher prices as consumers hoarded the precious metal as a safe haven asset amid a volatile market.Gold prices hit $2,000 an ounce on Tuesday for the first time since the coronavirus outbreak weakened the economy and clouded the global financial outlook, reported AFP. Gold bullion prices had increased more than 30 percent this year.“In 2020, Antam has been focusing on developing domestic customers in line with the public’s growing awareness of gold investment,” added Kunto.Kunto previously told the Post on July 3 that the miner had allocated Rp 80 billion in capital expenditure this year to expand its dwindling bauxite, nickel and gold reserves, with a particular focus on the precious metal as the bestseller.Meanwhile, first-half sale revenue of ferronickel fell 12.5 percent yoy to Rp 2 trillion, but the metal remains Antam’s second best-selling product, contributing 21.9 percent of total sales revenue.Antam is continuing development on two metal smelters as part of its long-term plan. The smelters will enable the company to produce and export higher-value refined metals in line with the government’s vision to transform Indonesia into an industrial economy.Read also: Metal miner Antam allocates $5.5m for exploration amid dwindling gold reservesOne of the smelters under development is a ferronickel smelter in East Halmahera, North Maluku, which was 98 percent complete as of June. The $289 million smelter will enable Antam to absorb more of its nickel ore and export higher-value ferronickel.The other is an aluminum smelter in Mempawah, West Kalimantan. The $841 million smelter is being developed in cooperation with state-owned PT Indonesia Asahan Aluminium (Inalum), which specializes in aluminum smelting. Antam did not release the smelter’s completion rate.Antam shares, traded on the Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) using the code ANTM, soared 2.84 percent on Wednesday at 10:10 a.m. Jakarta time, even as the Jakarta Composite Index (JCI), the main gauge of the IDX, slipped 0.2 percent.Antam shares have lost 14.29 percent of their value this year, compared to the JCI’s losses of 19.62 percent.Topics :