A health worker about to take a blood sample from a bajaj driver during a drive-through Covid-19 rapid testing in Central Jakarta on Monday. (JG Photo/Yudha Baskoro)

Sharp Drop in Coronavirus Cases, More Recoveries in Indonesia

APRIL 20, 2020

Jakarta. After weeks of bleak outlook in its struggle to end the coronavirus outbreak, Indonesia saw some promising signs on Monday with a sharp drop in daily new cases and a lot more patients recovering from Covid-19 compared to those who died from the illness.

Over the past 24 hours, new cases increased by 185, well below a record 407 on Friday, to 6,760 cases overall. Monday's figure is also a significant decline from 327 new cases yesterday.

According to government data, 61 more patients recovered to bring the total number of recoveries to 747 in the same period, while eight more patients died to bring the death toll to 590.

Only 13 out of 34 provinces reported new cases on Monday, mostly on the most densely populated island of Java.

Jakarta, the epicenter of the Covid-19 outbreak in Indonesia, reported 79 new cases to bring the city's total to 3,097.

Doni Monardo, head of the National Covid-19 Task Force, said the battle against Covid-19 remains far from over with the government intensifying social restrictions on several hotspots that have been placed under semi-lockdown status, including Jakarta and its satellite cities.

Soldiers and police are still being deployed to make sure that persons under surveillance (ODP) and patients under observation (PDP) for suspect coronavirus infections strictly observe physical distancing, he said.

"The president has instructed medical workers, assisted by the Indonesian Military and the National Police, to take measures against people in the ODP and PDP categories who ignore the restrictions," Doni said after a teleconference with President Joko Widodo.

Non-essential businesses who continue running despite the restrictions can face sanctions as well, he added.

It was reported last week that many commuter workers continued to flock into Jakarta as their employers refused to suspend operations. 

The provincial government couldn't stop the commuter trains from running because many medical workers and employees of essential businesses in the food, pharmacy and energy sectors also depend on the trains to reach Jakarta.

The government is considering installing CCTV near factories and offices to detect violations, Doni said.

"We've received recommendations to install CCTV at factories, and also to do more inspections at offices," Doni said.

"The Task Force calls on all business leaders, high-ranking officials and human resources managers to obey the government's work-from-home policy," he said.

No May Day

Separately, the Jakarta Police confirmed they would not approve any request for public rallies on International Workers' Day on May 1 in the capital and surrounding cities.

"We won't issue any permit. We will promptly disperse the crowd if a rally takes place," Jakarta Police spokesman Chief Comr. Yusri Yunus said.

He said a public rally would constitute a blatant violation of the physical distancing policy. He reminded that Jakarta and its satellite cities, home to hundreds of factories, had imposed large-scale social restriction (PSBB) to limit the spread of Covid-19.

"I'm sure they [the workers' unions] can understand," he said.