Banking shares are likely to remain under pressure as the financial authorities’ loan-restructuring program to help borrowers affected by the COVID-19 could affect their bottom-line, analysts have said.Artha Sekuritas Indonesia vice president Frederik Rasali said the outlook for banking shares was still gloomy as the prospect of lower earnings this year made the banking sector not so promising.As a result of uncertainties in the global and domestic economies, investors will continue to take a wait-and-see approach and hold on to their cash to reduce risk, he told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday. The lack of a mood for buying would affect stock trading as a whole, he added. Last week between May 4 and 8, the financial index depreciated by 2.28 percent. The fall in the prices of banking shares also contributed to the fall in the Jakarta Composite Index (JCI), which lost 2.52 percent during the same period.The previous week, between April 27 and April 30, the financial index gained 3.54 percent, while the JCI rose 4.9 percent, while between April 20 and 24 it fell by 6.03 percent and the IDX lost 2.99 percent.According to Mirae Asset Sekuritas Indonesia’s monthly strategy report published on May 8, the financial sector was among the “least preferred sectors during the outbreak”. The sector has dropped by 4.2 percent throughout April, although the JCI rose by 3.9 percent last month.The share prices of big banks have been leading the fall this year. Bank Mandiri’s (BMRI) price nosedived by 48.26 percent, Bank Rakyat Indonesia (BBRI) plunged by 43.54 percent while Bank Central Asia (BBCA) lost 21.97 percent year to date (as of Tuesday).Banks shares, particularly BBRI and BBCA were mostly sold by foreign investors during April, according to Mirae Asset’s report, adding that the foreign net sales in the financial sector reached Rp 4.3 trillion (US$289.4 million) during the month.The total foreign fund outflows from Indonesian banking shares have amounted to a staggering Rp 11.39 trillion throughout 2020, leaving banking the sector with the largest foreign capital flight so far this year, Mirae Asset’s research data reveal.The COVID-19 pandemic has severely weakened the operations of Indonesian banks, international credit rating agency Fitch Ratings has said. On March 24, Fitch revised its operating environment mid-point score for Indonesian banks to bb+ from bbb-, reflecting significant near-term risks to growth, asset quality and profitability in the sector.The government, well aware that the current business climate poses a risk to bank profitability — as nonperforming loans (NPLs) will subsequently rise as people’s ability to pay their debts decreases — has rolled out a number of stimulus packages to prevent mounting bad loans.In March, the Financial Services Authority (OJK) issued a regulation to relax debt quality assessments and restructuring requirements for loans of up to Rp 10 billion. OJK Regulation No. 11/2020 stipulates that banks are allowed to classify loans as good loans despite declining quality.Paul Sutaryono, a banking observer and former assistant vice president of Bank Negara Indonesia (BNI), told the Post on Tuesday that although the loan restructuring was good for both borrowers and banks, it still held liquidity risks if the restructuring failed.“If loans default, credit quality will go down thus the coverage ratio will go up. It could, therefore, eat up banks’ capital, hence the potential for liquidity risks,” he said.OJK chairman Wimboh Santoso said on Monday in an online hearing with Regional Representatives Council (DPD) Commission IV that as of May 10, Indonesian banks had restructured the loans of 3.88 million borrowers, worth around Rp 336.97 trillion.Wimboh said that 7.8 million borrowers with debts amounting to Rp 1.11 quadrillion might apply for loan restructuring.The country’s banking industry recorded an NPL rate of nearly 2.8 percent in February, the highest since May of last year, although still below the 3 percent threshold.The ratio of liquid assets to non-core deposits was 112.90 percent, well above the 50 percent threshold. The capital adequacy ratio, which measures a bank’s financial strength, was 21.77 percent, the OJK reported.Topics : He said that if there was no strong recovery in the economy until the end of this year, banking shares would remain under pressure. If the pandemic ends in the next few months, bank performances would also improve as there should be an increase in lending, he added. “The debt-restructuring policy actually puts more pressure on banks in terms of performance,” Frederik said. However, he noted that the policy measure had to be taken to ease the burden on borrowers impacted by the health crisis, many of whom might have lost their jobs or have seen their businesses closed down, resulting in the inability to pay off their loans.Pilarmas Investindo Sekuritas research director Maximilianus Nico Demus expressed a similar view. He told the Post on Tuesday that despite the loan-restructuring policy possibly causing negative sentiment for banks, it was part of a strategy “to keep the economy running in order to reduce the impact of the coronavirus”.In recent weeks, the index of the financial sector in the local stock exchange has fluctuated, Indonesia Stock Exchange (IDX) statistics show.
US President Donald Trump threatened to cut ties with China over its role in the spread of the coronavirus, as the global death toll from the disease topped 300,000.Despite fears of a second wave of infections, national and local governments around the world are easing lockdown orders as they try to get stalled economies moving again.But there were warnings Friday that some of the world’s poorest people remain the most vulnerable, with predictions that a quarter of a billion Africans could be infected without urgent action. The nexus of poverty and risk was highlighted by the discovery of cases in the world’s biggest refugee camp, where upwards of a million Rohingya live in squalor.”We are looking at the very real prospect that thousands of people may die from COVID-19″ in these camps, Save The Children’s Bangladesh health director Shamim Jahan said.”There are no intensive care beds at this moment” in the camps at Cox’s Bazaar, Jahan said.Track and trace teams were fanning out Friday to follow up on two positive tests. ‘We may need more graves’ Much of Europe appears to be over the worst, with more parts of the continent opening up.Austria and Germany were expected to open their border on Friday, while Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia were set to create their own “mini-Shengen on the Baltic”, allowing free movement among the three countries.But in Latin America, the news was looking increasingly dire.Thousands of fresh graves are being dug in the Chilean capital’s main cemetery, as the infection rate soars and as Santiago enters lockdown from Friday.”We realize that this is a historical moment and that we may need more graves, because we see what’s happened in other countries,” cemetery director Rashid Saud told AFP.The virus has been slower to take hold in Latin America, but numbers are rising rapidly.Africa, which has also appeared to have escaped the worst of the disease so far, is a hotspot waiting to happen, the World Health Organization warned Friday.Researchers say fragile health systems on the world’s poorest continent could quickly be overwhelmed, with modeling suggesting 231 million people could become infected.Around 150,000 of them would be expected to die, the study, published in the journal BMJ Global Health suggested. Vaccine Epidemiologists have long warned that the virus could race through the cramped, sewage-soaked alleys of the camps, where the persecuted Muslim minority have lived since fleeing a military offensive in neighboring Myanmar more than two years ago.Social distancing is all but impossible in such close quarters, and health experts say only a vaccine will prevent widespread infection.Despite scientists working flat out towards that aim, experts say it could still be many months — or even years — away.And without a robust roll-out plan, even highly developed countries could struggle to take advantage of any breakthrough.In the US, the man formerly charged with developing a vaccine told lawmakers the government in Washington has no “master plan” to fight the pandemic and is unprepared to distribute enough vaccines to immunize millions of Americans.”We don’t have a single point of leadership right now for this response,” said Rick Bright, who was removed from his job last month. ‘Disappointed in China’ The United States has registered almost 86,000 deaths linked to COVID-19 — the highest toll of any nation, with a third of all known global infections.In an interview aired Thursday, Trump again accused Beijing of concealing the true scale of the problem after the virus emerged in Wuhan late last year.”I’m very disappointed in China. I will tell you that right now,” he said.Asked how the United States might choose to retaliate against what he has dubbed the “Plague from China”, Trump said: “We could cut off the whole relationship”.The US and China are the world’s two largest economies, doing hundreds of billions of dollars of mutually beneficial trade every year.Nevertheless, the US president is keen to make Beijing the bogeyman in an election year when gloomy news has become par for the course.New figures showed a further three million job losses, taking the newly unemployed to 36.5 million — more than 10 percent of the US population.Over a third of them will have trouble paying their bills, a survey has revealed.States are slashing their budgets because of tax shortfalls caused by the job losses, with California announcing it would have a $54 billion deficit this year.Germany’s treasury is also expecting a big hole in its budget, with around 100 billion euros wiped off the tax take in 2020.Europe’s biggest economy has already slipped into a recession, with GDP expected to shrink by 6.3 percent this year — the biggest contraction since 1949. Topics :
Topics : A South Korean man was jailed for four months on Tuesday for breaking coronavirus quarantine rules, authorities said, in the country’s first such prison sentence.South Korea endured one of the worst early outbreaks of the virus — at one point the second-worst-hit nation after mainland China — but appears to have largely brought it under control thanks to an extensive “trace, test and treat” program.Life in the country is returning largely to normal and hundreds of thousands of South Korean pupils have gone back school after a delay of more than two months, in a process being closely watched as parts of Europe start to re-open. South Korean authorities are stepping up measures to try to prevent outbreaks recurring following a nightclub cluster earlier this month, and from Tuesday people are obliged to wear masks when using public transport and taxis nationwide.In February, the country’s National Assembly passed a law imposing maximum sentences of one year in prison or a 10-million-won ($8,000) fine for deliberately breaking infectious diseases quarantine.Officials in the east Asian nation of 52 million announced 19 new cases Tuesday, taking its total to 11,225. The jailed man, 27, was arrested in April after breaking the quarantines rules twice.He left his residence while under 14-day self-isolation and was then moved to a quarantine facility, where he was again caught leaving without permission.The man was “convicted of violating the Infectious Diseases Control and Prevention Act, and was given four months in jail”, an official at the Uijeongbu District Court told AFP.Prosecutors had requested a one-year prison sentence.
The Health Ministry Research and Development Agency (Balitbangkes) has issued a circular letter instructing doctors involved in the global clinical Solidarity Trial to suspend the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients over safety concerns.Twenty-two hospitals in the country have joined the program, led by the World Health Organization (WHO), to run clinical trials on several antiviral treatments to measure their effectiveness, including remdesivir, lopinavir/ritonavir, lopinavir/ritonavir plus interferon and hydroxychloroquine. According to a Balitbangkes letter addressed to the Indonesian Solidarity Trial research team dated May 26, a copy of which was obtained by The Jakarta Post, “hydroxychloroquine randomization for new subjects is suspended”.The agency wrote that new patients should not be treated with hydroxychloroquine but that patients who had been treated with hydroxychloroquine should continue the treatment under the monitoring, with special attention to the medicine’s side effects on the cardiovascular system.”[The circular] is only for those involved in the trial. For those who aren’t, it’s fine to continue the current treatment,” Balitbangkes chairman Abdul Kadir said on Friday.Read also: WHO suspends trials of hydroxychloroquine as virus treatment The Indonesian Society of Respirology (PDPI) called on doctors involved in the study to stop treating patients with hydroxychloroquine on Thursday. However, doctors not involved in the study could continue to follow the COVID-19 management protocol compiled by the PDPI with four other professional organizations until they issued a new one.The letter, signed by PDPI chairman Agus Dwi Susanto, also asked doctors to evaluate the condition of patients who had been taking hydroxychloroquine and report the results to the organization for consideration in a potential revision to the protocol.A copy of the protocol obtained by the Post suggests the use of several drugs for COVID-19 treatment, including antimalarials chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine, antiviral oseltamivir (Tamiflu), which has been used to treat bird flu, and experimental antiviral favipiravir (Avigan), which has been used to treat Ebola patients.The protocol suggested doctors use the antimalarials to treat patients with mild to severe symptoms within different ranges of time.Experts are still divided over what medication should be used to treat COVID-19. They have warned doctors to be very cautious when prescribing chloroquine phosphate and hydroxychloroquine and to only use it in severe cases as the side effects may include ruptured blood vessels and heart attacks.University of Indonesia epidemiologist Pandu Riono suggested the government completely suspend chloroquine treatment.“Due to the safety concerns, the government should suspend the use of chloroquine and audit all the COVID-19 deaths,” he said.Read also: ‘No benefit’ in hydroxychloroquine virus treatment: Two studiesPresident Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said in March that doctors could use hydroxychloroquine only if they considered it necessary to treat COVID-19 patients. Millions of chloroquine doses had been produced in the country by state-owned pharmaceutical company PT Kimia Farma.The medicine was easy to find in Papua, where malaria remains a problem. It was later discovered that the drug was being widely sold on e-commerce platforms in the country.The State-Owned Enterprises (SOE) Ministry said it would wait for the Health Ministry’s recommendation about the drug before choosing to limit distribution.”It is widely used in many hospitals. If the Health Ministry says they should stop, we will withdraw the medicine,” SOE Ministry spokesperson Arya Sinulingga said.Topics :
The lawyer added that the two women had been in detention since 2007. The Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur had given him information about the arrest as well as a confirmation of the detention and its circumstances.West Java Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Saptono Erlangga said the police had not received any information about the case.Read also: ‘Sunda Empire’ leaders, with mission ‘to settle debts at the World Bank’, arrested for fraudAgung Cahaya Sumirat, a spokesperson from the Indonesian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur, said the two women, both in their thirties, were still in detention. Agung added that the embassy and the Indonesian Consulate General in Kuching had interviewed the detainees to clarify their citizenship. However, both women insisted that they were not Indonesian citizens.“We have done at least three interviews. They don’t want to claim their Indonesian citizenship status,” said Agung on June 19, as quoted by tribunnews.com.Earlier this year, many Indonesians became aware of self-proclaimed kingdoms within territories widely considered to belong to Indonesia. Footage of the activities of these groups were circulated on the internet. One of the groups was the Sunda Empire, based in Bandung, West Java, which professed to be on a mission to settle the country’s debt with the World Bank by 2020.In addition to the Sunda Empire, internet users were surprised by the emergence of “Keraton Agung Sejagat” or the “World Empire”, another self-proclaimed kingdom based in Purworejo regency, Central Java, claiming to be the successor to the ancient Majapahit Empire.Many of those involved in the establishment of the self-proclaimed kingdoms were charged with fraud.The emergence of unrecognized kingdoms has concerned academics and historical observers, who fear that the past grandeur of ancient kingdoms could be used for deception and gaining power. (syk)Topics : The Immigration Department of Malaysia has detained two “royal members” of the self-proclaimed Sunda Empire for 13 years. In 2007, the two women tried to enter the country with invalid passports and refused to identify themselves as Indonesian citizens.A lawyer representing the group’s leaders, identified as Erwin, said the two detainees were Fathia Reza and Lamira Roro, daughters of the so-called grand prime minister of the Sunda Empire, Nasri Banks, and a woman who goes by the title “her royal imperial highness”, Raden Ratna Ningrum.“They were detained because officials deemed they were stateless. When they were asked whether they were Indonesian citizens, they answered no and asserted that they were citizens of the Sunda Empire,” Erwin said on Wednesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
Topics : “The Chicago Marathon is our city’s beloved annual celebration of more than 45,000 runners, as well as tens of thousands of volunteers, spectators and city residents,” Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot said.”Like all Chicagoans, I’m personally disappointed that this year’s event won’t take place as originally planned; however, we look forward to welcoming all runners and their cheering squads once again when the Chicago Marathon returns to our city in full force for another very exciting race.”Race director Carey Pinkowski said the decision had been taken with the safety of participants and volunteers in mind.”We understand the disappointment, but when we return to the streets of Chicago, it will be a celebratory moment and an uncompromising statement about the collective spirit of who we are as a running community: We are powerful, we are persistent, and we will reach the finish line again,” Pinkowski said. The Chicago Marathon became the latest major marathon to fall victim to the coronavirus on Monday as organizers confirmed cancellation of the race for only the second time in its history.The decision had been largely expected, with several other major marathons around the world already suffering the same fate because of the pandemic.The 43rd edition of the race was due to take place on October 11, with an estimated field of around 45,000 runners and wheelchair athletes. Chicago is one of the world’s six Major marathons along with races in Tokyo, Boston, London, Berlin and New York.The Chicago race was last cancelled in 1987 after a loss of sponsorship.Tokyo went ahead in March with only elite and wheelchair athletes taking part, while Boston was due to take place in April but was then rescheduled for September before eventually being cancelled altogether.Both Berlin and New York were also cancelled, leaving London — which was moved from April 26 to October 4 — as the last marathon race standing.
Topics : Bayu said the virtual matchmaking event aimed to promote Indonesian F&B export products in the US while pushing the government’s export drive amid the current decline in trade.Global trade is projected to fall 18.5 percent year-on-year (yoy) in the second quarter as an impact of the pandemic, according to the World Trade Organization. The global trade body also forecast that world merchandise trade volumes would contract at best 13 percent and at worst 32 percent in 2020 amid the disruption brought about by the pandemic.Statistics Indonesia (BPS) data showed that despite recording a slight recovery in June, Indonesian exports declined 5.49 percent yoy to US$76.41 billion in the first half of the year, while imports had slumped 14.28 percent yoy to $70.9 billion.In the F&B sector, Indonesian exports to the US increased 29.69 percent yoy to $293.63 million in January-April, maintaining the sector’s upward trend over the past five years. Seafood, fruits, snack foods and sugar are Indonesia’s top F&B exports to the US.Overall Indonesian-US trade totaled $27.1 billion in 2019.“Amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has battered the world and the restrictions on person-to-person meetings, the Indonesian government has been forced to find a creative, alternative way to maintain its presence on the international stage, especially in the United States,” said Bayu.The Trade Ministry plans to hold another virtual business matchmaking event on Friday for the furniture industry and on July 21 for the fashion industry.The ministry held a similar event earlier in May to help brown sugar producer Gula Merah Lombok in West Nusa Tenggara to secure a Rp 529.8 million ($37,000) purchase agreement with Australia’s Bakso Rawit Ani Pty. Ltd, which specializes in meatball and sambal products. The Trade Ministry held a virtual business matchmaking event on Tuesday to help connect food and beverage (F&B) small and medium enterprises (SMEs) looking for potential buyers in the United States.The event was part of the government’s strategy to stimulate the SME sector and boost exports toward reviving growth in mitigating the economic impacts of the pandemic.The virtual event facilitated 12 export-oriented SMEs in connecting with four American F&B companies, including Los Angeles-based Jans Enterprise Corp. and Ontario-based food trading giant Takari International, Inc., both located in the state of California. The Indonesian Trade Promotion Center in Los Angeles (ITPC LA) and the Indonesian Exports Education and Training Center (BBPPEI) in West Jakarta co-organized the matchmaking event.“American importers welcomed the virtual business matchmaking [event], and several expressed interest in some of the products that Indonesian SMEs were promoting,” ITPC LA head Bayu Nugroho said in a statement on Thursday.“The ITPC LA will facilitate further communication between the Indonesian SMEs and [their] importers to realize the export [deals],” he added.Takari already distributes several well-known Indonesian brands, including Kara coconut products and Kopiko coffee-flavored candy.
Australia unveiled a draft law Friday to force Google and Facebook to pay news media for their content or face huge fines in one of the most aggressive moves by any government to curb the power of the US digital giants.Treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced the “mandatory code of conduct” to govern relations between the struggling news industry and the tech firms after 18 months of negotiations failed to bring the two sides together.In addition to payment for content, the code covers issues like access to user data and transparency around the algorithms used to rank content in the platforms’ news feeds and search results. “The government’s heavy-handed intervention threatens to impede Australia’s digital economy and impacts the services we can deliver to Australians,” said Mel Silva, Google’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand.Facebook issued a terse one-line response that hinted it could reconsider its activites in Australia if the proposals were implemented.”We are reviewing the government’s proposal to understand the impact it will have on the industry, our services and our investment in the news ecosystem in Australia,” said Will Easton, Facebook’s local manager.The initiative has been closely watched around the globe as news media worldwide have suffered in an increasingly digital economy, where advertising revenue is overwhelmingly captured by Facebook, Google and other big tech firms.The crisis has been exacerbated by the economic collapse caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with dozens of Australian newspapers closed and hundreds of journalists sacked in recent months.Unlike other countries’ so-far unsuccessful efforts to force the platforms to pay for news, the Australian initiative uses competition law and not copyright regulations to challenge what Australia calls an “acute bargaining power imbalance” between media and the US giants.’We want it to be fair’ The move has been strongly pushed by Australia’s two biggest media companies, Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp and Nine Entertainment, who stand to gain the most from the crackdown.News Corp Australasia executive chairman Michael Miller called Friday’s announcement a “watershed moment” and declared the “platforms’ days of free-riding are ending”.Frydenberg warned Google and Facebook that any “discrimination” against Australian media as a result of the new law would be considered a punishable breach of the code.He said the aim was “not to protect Australian news media businesses from competition, or from disruption that’s occurring across this sector” but rather “to create a level playing field”.”We want Google and Facebook to continue to provide these services to the Australian community which are so much loved and used by Australians.”But we want it to be on our terms. We want it to be in accordance with our law. And we want it to be fair.”Under the code, drawn up by the Australian anti-trust watchdog ACCC, tech companies will be required to negotiate with news firms “in good faith” over payments for use of their content.If agreement cannot be reached within three months, the issue will go to binding arbitration.Violations of the code will draw penalties of up to Aus$10 million (US$7 million) per breach or 10 percent of the company’s local turnover, which the ACCC has estimated at some US$4 billion annually.Both Facebook and Google say advertising revenue linked to news content is a small fraction of their overall revenue and that they have contributed hundreds of millions of dollars to local news media by driving traffic to their online services, providing grants and purchasing some content.But ACCC chief Rod Sims said Friday such efforts failed to address the unfair power wielded by the tech titans.”We wanted a model that would address this bargaining power imbalance and result in fair payment for content, which avoided unproductive and drawn-out negotiations, and wouldn’t reduce the availability of Australian news on Google and Facebook,” he said.Topics : “Nothing less than the future of the Australian media landscape is at stake with these changes,” Frydenberg said, calling the legislation a “world-leading regulatory framework”.He said legislation implementing the code would be introduced to parliament in the coming weeks after a final round of consultations — and would include “substantial penalties” that could cost the tech companies hundreds of millions of dollars.While the code could eventually apply to any digital platform, Frydenberg said it would initially focus on Facebook and Google, two of the world’s richest and most powerful companies.Google responded quickly, saying it was “deeply disappointed” with the proposal.
Topics : Colombia in the last week passed 300,000 cases and 10,000 fatalities. Argentina, which had early success slowing the spread of the virus, has seen a recent spike in infections. Five Latin American countries are now in the global top 10 for cases, according to a Reuters tally.Brazil, the worst hit country in the region and the second-worst worldwide, has over 2.73 million cases and more than 94,000 deaths.The giant South American nation, which set a daily record for new cases last week, posted a lower total of 25,800 cases on Sunday, which looked likely to keep the wider region from breaching the 5 million mark until Monday.Mexico logged over 9,000 new infections from the virus on Saturday and is now the country with the third most deaths worldwide.Peru, which recently exceeded 400,000 cases, has seen a dangerous resurgence in infections after relaxing quarantine restrictions in a bid to revive a collapsed economy. It posted 7,448 cases on Saturday, the highest since late May.Around the region, already brittle healthcare systems are straining or overloaded, while economic growth is set to plunge around 9%, pushing up poverty and unemployment. Argentina broke past 200,000 COVID-19 cases on Sunday and Colombia set a daily record as grim milestones topple in Latin America, pushing the world’s worst affected region towards a combined 5 million cases.The region, which topped 200,000 deaths on Saturday, has struggled to stall the spread of the novel coronavirus, with infections picking up pace in many countries even as governments look to ease lockdowns and revive economic growth.Latin America, which has some 8% of the world’s population, accounts for close to 30% of global cases and fatalities, with infections still spreading fast and hitting regional leaders like Brazil’s Jair Bolsonaro and Bolivia’s Jeanine Anez.
Topics : “The impact is not just on the cognitive aspect of it but also on the emotional and psychological well-being of the students.”Read also: Pak Nadiem, please send the kids back to schoolHe warned that extended periods of distance learning could potentially deprive children of their psychological development, rendering them susceptible to antisocial tendencies.“We’re seeing a lot of tension — psychological tension and pressure — right now on both parents and students, and to be honest, a lot of loneliness,” Nadiem said. Education and Culture Minister Nadiem Makarim has conveyed his concerns regarding the long-term impacts of remote learning on the psychological well-being of Indonesian students, saying that prolonged detachment from their peers and teachers could result in increased anxiety and depression.Students across the country are at risk of feeling lonely and tense as they are no longer able to experience the personal and interactive learning process they grew accustomed to prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, he said.“There’s research being done on what happens when kids can’t go to school for an extended period of time, and the impact is significant,” Nadiem said during the Educating the Nation webinar, which was part of The Jakarta Post’s webinar series Jakpost Up Close, on Wednesday. “No one really talks about this as a huge and potentially permanent psychological impact as kids feel lonely for extended periods of time.”The mitigation of mental health risks inherent to extended isolation should be viewed as an essential aspect of national recovery efforts, he said. Read also: School reopening riskyThe mental well-being of students and socioeconomic discrepancies, he added, were among the main reasons why the government recently decided to allow more schools to reopen as there had yet to be any feasible substitute for in-person learning amid the pandemic.“We need to mitigate [the effects of the pandemic], but without sacrificing too much of the health risks.”The government’s decision to allow schools to reopen in moderate-risk areas or yellow zones was met with criticism from health experts and policymakers who are concerned for the physical safety and health of students as the pandemic has not shown any signs of abating anytime soon.Nadiem defended the policy as a difficult, albeit necessary trade-off to maintaining the spirit of learning in a time of crisis.“This is something that we need to balance in our considerations and policies while still maintaining as strict of a health protocol as possible.”