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Hundreds Of Vaccinated Healthcare Workers In Indonesia Get Covid-19 

More than 350 doctors and medical workers have tested positive for Covid-19 despite being vaccinated with Sinovac. Officials made the announcement this week following a growing amount of concerns being raised about the efficacy of some vaccines against the more infectious coronavirus variants. 

Most of the workers who tested positive were asymptomatic and simply had to self-isolate at home. Badai Ismoyo, the head of health offices in the district of Kudus, claimed that dozens of workers have also been hospitalized with high fevers and falling oxygen-saturation levels. 

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Kudos district alone has about 5,000 healthcare workers, and are battling this major outbreak that they believe is being driven by the Delta Covid-19 variant. This variant is much more transmissible than the traditional Covid-19 virus that we’ve been battling for the past year. Additionally, the spreading of this variant has caused Kudos’ bed occupancy rates to reach 90%. 

Healthcare workers were obviously among some of the first to receive their vaccinations as they began being distributed. According to the Indonesian Medical Association, almost all healthcare workers received their vaccines from Chinese company Sinovac. 

“The data shows they have the Delta variant in Kudus, so it is no surprise that the breakthrough infection is higher than before, because, as we know, the majority of healthcare workers in Indonesia got Sinovac, and we still don’t know yet how effective it is in the real world against the Delta variant,” said Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist at Australia’s Griffith University.

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The World Health Organization approved of the Sinovac vaccine for emergency use this month, claiming the trial data results showed it prevented symptomatic Covid-19 in 51% of all recipients. Indonesia has endured some of the toughest Covid outbreaks in all of Asia, with over 1.9 million cases and 53,000 deaths. 

Siti Nadia Tarmizi, a senior health ministry official, said there had been “no deaths in Kudus since a new outbreak began in the past several weeks among medical workers and those who contracted Covid-19 have had mild symptoms.”

“It is alarming for us because we cannot rely on vaccinations only. I know of at least half a dozen doctors hospitalized with Covid-19 in the past month despite being vaccinated, with one now being treated in an ICU,” said radiologist Dr Prijo Sidipratomo.

Daily new cases in Indonesia have been reaching 10,000 as of this week, with an overall positivity rate exceeding 23% for the country. 

The WHO has recommended that Indonesia tighten their lockdown restrictions and increase certain protocols until infection rates decrease drastically and more of the average population receives their vaccinations.

Flooding

Indonesia Hit By Extreme Flooding

Extreme weather conditions have been rocking the world recently and Indonesia has been one of the latest regions to be hit. Last week torrential rains hit Jakarta and its surrounding areas which in turn caused landslides and floods that have taken the lives of 29 individuals. At one point over 62,000 citizens had to be evacuated from Jakarta, although Agus Wibowo – a spokesman for the disaster mitigation agency – confirmed that the numbers of those evacuated had dropped to 35,000 people.

The city of Bekasi was also hit, although the waters are starting to recede, leaving muddy roads covered in garbage, as well as damaged cars littering the area. With so much damage locals were forced to use tire inner tubes or rubber lifeboats just to get around the city.

Many buildings showed signs that the water had reached the second floors after a local river broke its banks with local Deddy Supriadi saying he “saw the water coming and it just kept getting higher and higher. It swept away 40 or 50 cars that were parked right here.”

Many residents across the region became trapped in their own homes as rescuers were seen helping seniors and children evacuate via inflatable boats. The National Search and Rescue agency confirmed that they had been called to make many rescues, including an incident where rescuers had to wade through water that was ‘chin-deep’ so they could rescue a baby who was carried to safety in a small bucket.

The agency’s spokesman Yusuf Latif confirmed “we’ve been rescuing new-borns, mothers who just gave birth and babies trapped in houses without food.”

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“In some places, the rescue operation was quite challenging and difficult. The water was deep with a strong current. Some alleyways were so narrow that it was hard for our inflatable boats to pass through.”

However, children in the area were spotted swimming in the waters while others took to the streets with their fishing rods. Agung Rosiadi, 28, saw people fishing so he joined them, however he commented that “there were lots of fish before but I don’t know why they’ve all gone now.”

Sadly at least 26 people have lost their lives in greater Jakarta with a further three dying during flash floods in the nearby Lebak regency. Police have confirmed they are still looking for eight missing people with Social Affairs Minister Juliari Peter Batubara admitting “we hope the toll won’t keep going up.”

While most deaths were caused through hypothermia or drowning, there were also other instances including a 16-year-old boy who was electrocuted by a power line and an eight-year-old boy who died during a landslide.

One resident saw many families flee the floods in the western edges of Jakarta, telling reporters “the floods hit without warning. The water came very fast and it rose quickly. We couldn’t manage to get our stuff out, including my car.”

Other residents were evacuated from their homes in East Jakarta including Umar Dani who was rescued with his family on a rubber boat after the flood waters rose to neck height. “It has not flooded for so long here. We didn’t have the chance to bring anything. I have to live on the streets now.”

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Following several electrocutions, officials decided to turn the power off in many areas in Jakarta to prevent further incidents, thus resulting in several train lines being closed down, as well as a local airports, however the majority of services were back to normal within 24 hours.

Joko Widodo – Indonesia’s President – spoke to reporters and confirmed that both safety and evacuation procedures would be prioritized and demanded more planning between the central government and local administrations.

Speaking via his Twitter feed Widodo blamed flood control infrastructure projects being delayed for the flooding, with some being delayed for nearly three years as a result of land acquisition problems.

During a visit to areas in East Jakarta the governor of Jakarta, Anies Baswedan, announced that the authorities had been deploying hundreds of pumps in an attempt to remove the majority of the rainwater from several residential settings throughout the capital, meaning many residents could return back to what was left of their homes.

“They want to return home immediately and start cleaning up their houses as soon as they are able to enter their houses as water recedes.”

Reports confirmed that water levels have dropped dramatically in some of the affected areas with images showing many streets needing clearing of mud and rubbish.

However if locals thought the danger has passed authorities have warned them that the “extreme weather” is due to continue for another week – with heavy rainfall predicted until the middle of February – and urged people to “remain vigilant.”

Buddha

Oldest Art Known To Man Discovered In Indonesia

The oldest artwork ever created by humans has been discovered in Indonesia. The cave art found can be dated back 44,000 years, and it’s definitely not your average cave painting. The figures depicted in the painting seem to be half human, half animal and are known as therianthropes. Therianthropes typically are illustrated with human bodies and animal heads, and are often used in mythology. In this particular painting, the therianthropes are hunting pigs and buffaloes using spears and ropes; a rather normal cave painting scene, minus the animal heads. The story was originally published in the online science journal known as Nature. In the journal’s report, scientists believe that the figures in the painting could potentially give us an insight into the original foundation of human spirituality, given the fact that the characters in the painting have animal heads. 

“To me, the most fascinating aspect of our research is that humanity’s oldest cave art is at least 44,000 years old and it already has all the key components relating to modern cognition, [like] hand stencils, figurative art, storytelling, therianthropes and religious thinking. So it must have a much older origin, possibly in Africa or soon after we left Africa,” said Maxime Aubert, study author

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Sulawesi, Indonesia is the specific city in which the cave painting was discovered. The city is known for its vast amount of limestone caves. According to Aubert, there are at least 240 known cave art sites in Sulawesi, but considering it’s the 11th largest island in the world, and has barely been explored for cave art specifically, who’s to say what else is left to be discovered. It’s likely that there’s even more insight into what life was like 40,000+ years ago hidden amongst the limestone. 

This artwork in particular was initially discovered back in 2017; Aubert and his team were exploring another cave, when one of his associates noticed there was another cave hidden farther above a cliff that was nearby. Upon further exploration, the 44,000 year old art was discovered, and it was covered in what researchers call “cave popcorn.” This term is for the layers of mineral growth that are often found on top of ancient cave paintings such as this one. These layers are very important for scientists when it comes to determine how old the artwork is. Scientists are able to measure the radioactive decay of specific elements within the mineral layers and based off how decayed they are is what determines the age of the drawings. 

What’s so astounding about this paintings discovery in particular doesn’t even fully have to do with how old it is, but instead the content of it. Aubert discussed how before this, the oldest cave paintings were thought to be in Europe, and those pieces depicted many abstract symbols and were likely created 40,000 years ago. Fast forward another five thousand years and the cave art became slightly more sophisticated, depicting animal and human shaped figures. However, it wasn’t until about 20,000 years ago where the first cave paintings depicting scenes that share a clear story with therianthropes appeared; until now. 

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“[It] suggests that there was no gradual evolution of Paleolithic art from simple to complex around 35,000 years ago — at least not in Southeast Asia. The hunters represented in the ancient rock art panel are simple figures with human-like bodies, but they have been depicted with heads or other body parts like those from birds, reptiles and other faunal species endemic to Sulawesi,” said Adhi Agus Oktaviana, study co-author.

The study is so groundbreaking because it’s giving scientists the earliest known evidence of human beings conceiving concepts that are beyond the natural world. Spirituality, religion, mythology, narrative fiction, gods/spirits, etc. these are all concepts that, up until this point, scientists believed humans didn’t have the capacity to understand until about 20,000 years ago. Now, that’s all being thrown out the window, and the study suggests that this discovery could mean that human conceived spirituality could go beyond being just 44,000 years old; with all of the areas still yet to be explored. 

Research has also indicated that human beings first arrived in Southeast Asia almost 70,000 years ago, meaning there could be artwork even older and more complex than this one! However, scientists must move quickly, as art as old as this is quite fragile and continues to deteriorate at an alarming rate. 

“The early rock art of Sulawesi may contribute invaluable insight into the rise of human spirituality and the spread of artistic beliefs and practices that shaped our modern minds. It would be a tragedy if these exceptionally old artworks should disappear in our own lifetime,” Oktaviana said.

Baby Chicks

Indonesia Is Giving Kids Baby Chicks To Combat Internet Addiction

As this decade comes to a close and we begin a new one, it’s safe to say a lot has changed within the past 10 years. What’s been the most significant and obvious transformation is how much technological advances have been made. We now have phones that we unlock using our faces or fingerprints, headsets that let us enter the world’s that video games create, cars that drive for us, and an endless stream of social media posts and notifications. While this new technology has advanced us as a society, it also has its major drawbacks, one of the biggest being how dependent we all are on it, especially the younger generation. 

Kids are becoming more addicted to social media and the internet every year, and a huge part of that has to do with how accessible personal internet devices have now become. More parents are allowing their children to own either a tablet, phone, laptop, etc. whatever is easiest and can work as the best distraction for them. While this practice may be quite common here in America, other parts of the world are putting great efforts into preventing their children from becoming overly dependent on these devices. 

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Specifically, a city in Indonesia is combating internet addiction in kids with trees, and chicks. Bandung, Indonesia has launched a new program in which students are given both a baby chicken and chili seeds in an attempt to get their eyes off the screen, and onto the process of growth in the natural world. Kids ranging from elementary school to junior high school are being given the responsibility of caring for their new “exotic” pets and plants to grow. According to CNN, The Bandung government backed the pilot program and has provided 2,000 chicks and 1,500 chili seeds to 12 schools in the Bandung districts (10 elementary schools and two junior high schools). 

As stated above this program is still in its “pilot” phase, meaning the results in regards to internet use is unconfirmed, however, educators have high hopes that growing trees and caring for young chicks will help motivate the kids to focus on what’s real. CNN reports that the Mayor of Bandung, Mayor Oded Danial, kicked off the program by holding a “symbolic hand-over ceremony” in which the chicks were handed off to the kids as their new caregivers. 

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This program is happening in Indonesia specifically due to increased smartphone addiction rate which is growing concerns amongst many parents in the country.  According to the Global Digital Report for 2019, South Asia has one of the highest online presence globally, and the average Indonesian internet user spends an average of nine hours a day online! For reference, that’s two hours more than the GLOBAL average. 

Several parents in Bandung appeared supportive of the program dubbed ‘chickenization.’”It’s good to increase the discipline of children. Caring for trees is better than playing with cell phones,” local parent Elis Puri said to CNN.

The children themselves are just as excited, local accounts for the program showed off several plans that all the kids had for the baby chicks. Some said they would like to begin breeding chickens in general to create a constant source of eggs and protein for his family, others had a little more morbid of a plan and want to raise the chick until they’re big enough to eat. At least they have a solid plan for raising the babies.  

Local government officials and school officials plan on monitoring the program for the next year. They plan on recording data on both how successful every child is at maintenance care for their pets and plants, as well as their average internet use in comparison to before the program was implemented into their lives.