Soldiers and Municipal Police officers stand guard in the eastern border of Bekasi, West Java, to prevent travelers from leaving Greater Jakarta on April 24, as the government bans Ramadan exodus to contain the spread of Covid-19. (Antara Photo/M Ibnu Chazar)

Indonesia in Critical Period, Says Covid-19 Task Force Head


MAY 21, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesia is entering a critical period in its fight against the coronavirus outbreak, National Covid-19 Task Force head Doni Monardo said on Wednesday as confirmed cases of the disease have been growing at the fastest speed during the last nine days.

The critical period came the week before and after Idul Fitri, the most important holiday for Indonesian Muslims when social distancing policy will come under a real test.


“This is a very critical moment for us, before and after Lebaran,” Doni said in a news conference, using another term for the holiday that falls on Sunday, right after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Health officials especially in Jakarta will be on alert during the next two weeks to anticipate people movement into the capital after Idul Fitri.

“I have reported to the president about post-Lebaran potential threat in which residents return to Jakarta from their hometowns. We are worried that people from new epicenters of the outbreak return to Jakarta as the carrier of the virus. If that happens, all our efforts all these times will be useless,” Doni said.

Last year, around 19 million people left Greater Jakarta to celebrate Idul Fitri in their hometowns and a lot more people including job seekers flocked into Jakarta and its satellite cities afterward.

Ramadan exodus was banned this year to contain the spread of the disease, but Doni said some people had managed to leave and very likely would come back after Idul Fitri.

Jakarta, home to 32.5 percent of coronavirus cases in Indonesia, has decided to extend the so-called large-scale social restriction until June 4. It has imposed the restriction since April 10.

Doni said his team is asking help from the military and the police to prevent arrivals in Jakarta until a full reopening of the capital.

“I hope the task force at the provincial and district levels can work together with the police and the military to curb transmissions,” Doni, an army general, said.

His remarks came on the day when daily cases set a new record. Confirmed cases of Covid-19 soared by 693 on Wednesday to a total of 19,189, including 1,242 deaths and 4,575 recovered patients.

Since May 12, daily cases have averaged 547. Total cases in the last nine days alone make up 25.7 percent of the overall tally since first cases were detected on March 2.