JAKARTA - The Speaker of the House of Representatives, Puan Maharani, asked the government to answer the public's confusion regarding the Instruction of the Minister of Home Affairs (Inmendagri) Number 53 of 2021 regarding the conditions for people to travel by airplane during the COVID-19 pandemic.
"In recent days, many people have spoken out because they are confused by the new PCR rules as a condition for all these flights. People are asking why in the current state of the COVID-19 pandemic in Indonesia, which is getting better, the travel tests are getting stricter," said Puan Maharani, quoted by Antara, Thursday, October 21.
The travel requirements from the Ministry of Home Affairs are regulated in more detail through Circular (SE) of the Covid-19 Task Force Number 21 of 2021 and SE of the Ministry of Transportation (Kemenhub) Number 21 of 2021 concerning Provisions for Travel of Domestic People during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
In the regulations that take effect from Thursday to November 1, 2021, a certificate of negative RT-PCR results a maximum of 2x24 hours before departure is a mandatory requirement for travel to and from the Java-Bali region as well as in areas that fall into the PPKM level 3 and 4 categories.
For outside Java-Bali, this requirement is also set for regions with PPKM level 1 and 2 categories, but the antigen test is still valid with a duration of 1x24 hours. Previously, flight operators could use an antigen test 1x24 hours on condition that prospective passengers had been fully vaccinated.
"Why in the past, when COVID-19 wasn't as good as now, instead, antigen testing was allowed as a condition of flight. Now we have to use PCR because we are careful? Does that mean when antigen is allowed, we are not being careful or less careful? Questions from the public like this must be explained clearly by the government," said the chairman of the DPR.
According to her, the PCR test should only be used as an examination instrument for corona suspects. She reminded that health facilities in Indonesia are not evenly distributed and will make it more difficult for people who want to travel by air transportation.
Puan Maharani reminded that not all areas, such as in Jakarta or big cities, where the results of the PCR test can come out quickly.
"In areas it is not certain that the results of the PCR test can be completed in 1x24 hours, so it is not appropriate when the PCR test rules for air travel apply for 2x24 hours," she explained.
On the other hand, said Puan, the public is also questioning the government's plan to allow planes to carry passengers at full capacity or 100 percent in line with the implementation of the PCR test requirements for airplane passengers, because the reason for the PCR test obligation is to reduce the spread of the corona virus.
COVID-19 Task Force Explanation
Spokesman for the COVID-19 Task Force, Wiku Adisasmito, said that air travel was tightened considering that passenger capacity had been relaxed to 100 percent.
"The tightening of the testing method to PCR only in the Java-Bali and non-Java-Bali levels 3 and 4 is carried out considering that there is no longer full capacity siting or sit distancing," said Wiku in a virtual press conference, Thursday, 21 October.
Wiku said that PCR has a higher accuracy than the rapid antigen test when used as a travel requirement. So, it is hoped that there will be no transmission of COVID-19 when passenger capacity is relaxed.
"When the number of passengers with a higher density increases, it is hoped that there will be no potential for transmission from people who may pass the screening process if they do not use RT-PCR," he said.
Wiku explained that this capacity easing was carried out as part of a trial of easing mobility for the sake of economic recovery in the midst of a fairly controlled case condition.
"PCR as the gold standard testing method and more sensitive than rapid antigen in capturing positive cases, is expected to fill the gaps in transmission that may exist," he explained.
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