Rizieq Syihab addresses his followers during a visit at a Muslim boarding school in Bogor, West Java on Nov. 13, 2020. (Beritasatu Photo/Vento Saudale)

Rizieq Blamed for New Clusters of Covid Infections as Jakarta Sees Record Weekly Number


NOVEMBER 23, 2020

Jakarta. The seven-day average of newly coronavirus cases hits a new high in Jakarta as officials said the city is facing new clusters of infections due to recent mass gatherings led by controversial Muslim group leader Rizieq Syihab.

A Health Ministry official announced on Sunday that at least 80 people who attended the wedding party of Rizieq’s daughter in Petamburan, Central Jakarta and a religious event led by the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) leader in Tebet, South Jakarta have tested positive for the virus.

“The Health Ministry encourages anyone who has attended any of the events or had close contacts with those attendees to self isolate for 14 days,” Budi Hidayat, the ministry’s director general of disease control and prevention, told a news conference.

Newly appointed Jakarta Police Chief Insp. Gen. Fadil Imran said two other events involving Rizieq “have become new clusters of infections”, pointing to a huge crowd of supporters who flocked to the Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Tangerang to welcome the FPI leader’s arrival from Saudi Arabia and his visit to an Islamic boarding school in Bogor, West Java that also attracted thousands of people.


Budi said the police and the military are helping health officials to conduct mass diagnostic tests for coronavirus near Rizieq’s home in Petamburan.

Budi was appointed last week as the new police chief to replace Nana Sudjana, who was demoted for failing to prevent mass gatherings of Rizieq’s supporters.

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Rizieq, 55, is the “supreme leader” of the FPI, notorious for vandalism and verbal and physical attacks against people of different faiths. But his base of supporters has expanded beyond the group itself after he led massive protests against then Jakarta governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama in 2016-17 over alleged blasphemy. He is also known as a staunch critic of the president.

New High
Jakarta has been averaging 1,220 cases in the past week to surpass the first peak of the curve in early October. That number is the highest seven-day average since the outbreak began -- the previous high was 1,219 cases reported on Oct. 5.

The capital city has recorded a total of 127,164 cases as of Sunday, accounting for 25.6 percent of nationwide tally. At least 2,525 people have died from coronavirus in the city.

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Newly cases in other key hotspots like West and Central Java are trending down, but they are dealing with a roughly equal amount of active cases as Jakarta.

Central Java currently has the biggest number of active cases of the virus, totaling 9,809 from 47,380 confirmed cases. Jakarta comes next with 8,794 active cases, followed by West Java (8,187) and West Sumatra (3,163).

East Java has the second-highest number of confirmed cases, 58,679 as of Sunday, but only 2,533 remain active.

National Tally
The country recorded 4,360 new cases on Sunday to take its total to 497,668, including 15,884 deaths. It has been averaging 3,981 cases since the beginning of the month, already exceeding last month’s average.

The total number of active cases stands at more than 63,500 cases spurred by the current surge in Jakarta.

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Other key hotspots like Riau, East Kalimantan and West Sumatra continue to report three-digit daily numbers.

The three provinces have recorded more than 18,000 cases since the outbreak. East Kalimantan and West Sumatra has added more than 4,000 cases month to date.

Riau has recorded around 3,800 cases since Nov. 1 but currently has the highest seven-day average among the three, on 290 cases in comparison to East Kalimantan’s 181 and West Sumatra’s 177.

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