Women wear colorful robes during Idul Fitri prayer at the Kebumen town center in Central Java last year. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro).

Gov't Prepares for Spread of Covid-19 During Ramadan

BY :TARA MARCHELIN

MARCH 18, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesia's chief security minister, Mahfud M.D., said on Wednesday the government has held meetings with religious institutions and figures to discuss the effects of the Covid-19 outbreak on the Islamic fasting month of Ramadan from April to May. 

"The pandemic is expected to reach its peak here during Ramadan. We have to prepare how to manage crowds during tarawih [Ramadan evening prayer], iftar [fast-breaking meals] and mudik [Idul Fitri rush]. But no decision has been made so far," Mahfud said.

On March 13, the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) said the peak of the Covid-19 outbreak in Indonesia was likely to fall on the 60th to 80th day since the first cases were announced, which means the end of April or May.

On March 17, the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) extended the national emergency for Covid-19 to May 29.

Meanwhile, Idul Fitri will fall on May 24-25.

The Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Panjaitan, said he had asked the Transportation Ministry to act on measures to prevent the spread of Covid-19 during Ramadan and other religions celebrations.

"I have requested the Transportation Ministry to prepare the options. The president will discuss them with the Indonesian Ulama Council [MUI]," Luhut said in a virtual press conference at the Coordinating Ministry for Maritime Affairs and Investment headquarters in Jakarta.

Discipline on Social Distancing 

Luhut also appealed to the public to follow the government's advice to prevent the spread of Covid-19 by exercising social distancing.

"Covid-19 is still spreading because a lot of people still make physical contact with each other and don't report when they have symptoms, and that's dangerous. We have to exercise discipline," Luhut said.

Luhut asked the public to trust the government because all its decisions are based on inputs from experts.

"We always follow the best possible options, though they might not necessarily be perfect. The situation is rapidly changing," Luhut said.

Mahfud said the government has so far made no decision to lock down affected cities.

Meanwhile, law enforcers have been ordered to arrest people who stockpile goods and spread Covid-19 hoaxes.

"The government [Covid-19] task force has created safety protocols, and ministries have prepared equipment and facilities for the public. So far, the situation is under control as long as people act orderly. We have to act cohesively to deal with Covid-19," Mahfud said.

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