President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo gives a press statement at Bogor Palace in West Java on Monday. (Antara Photo/Hafidz Mubarak A.)
Indonesia Rules Out Lockdowns as Covid-19 New Cases Growth Slows Down
BY :LENNY TRISTIA TAMBUN
MARCH 16, 2020
Jakarta. Indonesian health authorities announced 17 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Monday, marking the third straight days of decline in the number of new patients as the country ramping up efforts — except locking down cities — to stop the disease from spreading among the local population.
The total number of patients has reached 134 people since the country first found the pneumonia-like disease in its territory on March 2. The number of fatalities has remained at five and recoveries at eight in the past three days.
Most of the new patients were in Jakarta, Achmad Yurianto, the spokesman of Indonesia's Covid-19 handling team, said in a press conference on Monday. Meanwhile, Banten, West Java, and Central Java each saw one new case in their region.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has urged Indonesian to stay at home or at least reduce their activities in the public area to slow down the spread of Covid-19.
Most students in Jakarta, Banten, West Java, Central Java, and East Java, five of the country's most populous provinces, stopped going to school on Monday and taking online classes instead for the next two weeks. Jakarta reduced its public transit services on Monday, to force people to stay at their home. However, the first day of its implementation turned chaotic as many businesses still required their employees to come to the office.
"It's of utmost importance to reduce the mobility of people traveling from one place to another, maintain [safe] distance, and reduce people gatherings, which carry a greater risk of spreading the novel coronavirus," Jokowi said in a speech on Monday.
However, the President stopped short from enforcing lockdowns on regions with a high number of confirmed Covid-19 diseases like Jakarta and West Java.
"First, I need to stress that the lockdown policy at both the national and regional levels is the policy of the central government. The local government cannot make this decision, "Jokowi said.
On Monday, the authorities also revealed Patient 1 and Patient 3, who attended a dancing event at Amigos Restaurant in Kemang, South Jakarta, that later identified as Indonesia's first local infection cluster have recovered. Also, Patient 2, who is Patient 1's mother, has been discharged from Prof. Dr. Sulianti Saroso Hospital for Infectious Diseases in North Jakarta.
The government arranged for a small event at the hospital, celebrating their recovery. Health Minister Agus Terawan Putranto attended the event and brought with him some herbal drinks, gifts from Jokowi to the recovered patients.
"We can express gratitude to the Almighty for the recovery of our sisters here today," Terawan said.
Patient 1 expressed her gratitude for doctors, nurses, lab workers, and cleaning services who took care of them at the hospital.
"I hope the government could give them some appreciation and incentives for their 24-hour dedication at the front line," the patient said. Covid-19 has caused at least one medical worker death in Indonesia so far.
Patient 3, who was admitted to the hospital with mild only mild symptoms, reminded people to heed directives from the medical community about individual responsibility for preventing the disease from spreading.
"In my case, I was tested positive [for Covid-19] but did not show any alarming symptoms. It was more dangerous, as [in such a case], we can go to work every day without knowing that we are transmitting it to people whose immunity and health are weaker than us," she said.
President's Test Result
As of Monday, Indonesia has carried out Covid-19 tests on 1,230 people, or just four tests for every million of its population. Among them were President Jokowi, Vice President Ma'ruf Amin, and members of his cabinet after they came in contact with Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi.
Budi Karya was tested positive for the virus on Saturday.
The Vice President Ma'ruf, Agrarian and Spatial Planning Minister Sofyan Djalil, and Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian were all tested negative. Defence Minister Mahfud M.D., State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir, and Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati have also continued their duties on Monday.
Just like most of his ministers, Jokowi took the test on Sunday. The President returned for work on Monday and led a cabinet teleconference from his residence in Bogor Palace in Bogor, West Java.
The President interacted with journalists from a podium as usual but, he was cryptic when the reporters inquired about his test result.
"For my result, ask the tester. Thank you, I think that's enough," Jokowi said.