Several police officers inspect truck for hidden passengers in Bekasi, West Java on Saturday. (Antara Photo/Fakhri Hermansyah)

Pandemic Shows Little Sign of Slowing as Indonesians Try to Avoid Restrictions

BY :DION BISARA

MAY 02, 2020

Jakarta. Indonesia has reported an additional 292 Covid-19 cases and 422 suspect patients throughout the archipelago in the past 24 hours, showing little sign of the pandemic slowing in the country amid many attempts among its residents to break government-imposed travel restriction. 

The latest figure brought the country's total cases to 10,843, the second-highest in Southeast Asia after Singapore, with total patients under observation (PDP) at 22,545, Achmad Yurianto, the Covid-19 Task Force spokesman said on Saturday.

The latest guidance from the World Health Organization suggested reading both statistics in tandem to give a more realistic picture of the pandemic amid lack of PCR testing.  

There were 74 additional patients recovered, and 31 deaths, Achmad Yurianto, the Covid-19 Task Force spokesman said on Saturday. The task force reported a total of 1,665 patients have improved since the country's announced its first two cases on March 2. A total of 831 perished. 

The country's case-fatality rate has dropped below 8 percent for three days in a row now, but still one the highest in the region.

The task force also reports an increase of 1,915 persons under surveillance (ODP), or suspected individuals coming from Covid-19 infected countries or area but showed no ill symptoms. That brought the total to 235,035 persons. 

Achmad said all provinces in Indonesia and 321 districts or cities had been exposed to Covid-19.

The government has restricted travel between cities, other than for essentials, to contain the spread of the coronavirus. The Transportation Ministry had also put in place nationwide flight restriction until June 1. 

Still, many try to breach there restriction, attempting to leave epicenters like Jakarta and its surrounding cities where economic activities significantly shrunk due to the government imposed large scale social restrictions. 

On Friday night, the Jakarta police stopped 15 minibus carrying 113 people trying to leave Jakarta. Six others hid in a truck, hoping to hitchhike logistic transport to get to Central Java.  

"These people not only breach the government ban on exodus travel, but also the [2009] Law about Road Traffic," Chief Comr. Sambodo Purnomo Yogo, the Jakarta police traffic director, said.

The police let the passengers free with stern warnings. Owners of the vehicles, however, were questioned by the cops, Sambodo said. 

Indonesian airlines like Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air also lobbied the government to have some of their commercial flights allowed to fly amid the ban. 
Public policy observer Agus Pambagio said the airlines had sold tickets for flights from May 3, even though the ministry had not yet revise its flight ban.

"Limited operation of airlines in the Covid-19 pandemic situation by ignoring them regulation is hazardous for the customers," Agus said. 

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