Indonesia: Gov to step up mask-wearing campaign as cases top 125,000

Office employees waking toward their office buildings after lunch hours near the Dukuh Atas railway station in Central Jakarta. The Health Ministry announced 1,893 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections nationwide to 125,396. - Jakarta Post/ANN

JAKARTA, Aug 9 (The Jakarta Post/ANN): The Health Ministry announced 1,893 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections nationwide to 125,396.

According to data released by the ministry on Sunday, 65 more people have died of the disease, bringing the death toll to 5,723.

The total number of recovered patients has also increased to 80,952. The virus has spread to all of the country's 34 provinces.

The capital city recorded 440 new confirmed cases, bringing the total tally to 25,727. Meanwhile, East Java reported 408 new cases, West Java 179, Central Java 140, South Kalimantan 98 and South Sulawesi 90.

The government has announced that it will step up its public campaign to encourage mask-wearing in the next few weeks as Covid-19 cases in the country continue to rise.

“(President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo) has asked us to educate the public on health protocols,” Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy said in a statement on Tuesday. “We (will) start with the essential, which is mask-wearing.”

Muhadjir said the government would establish a program, spearheaded by the coordinating minister’s office, to intensify the campaign to wear a face mask in public places, including appointing a mask-wearing “ambassador” and distributing social aid packages that include face masks.

Additionally, the government plans to issue public service commercials in print and online publications, social media and billboards, in addition to educating the public on the law regarding wearing a face mask.

“The main targets of this campaign are people who have activities in traditional and modern markets, terminals, stations, public facilities, houses of worship, public open spaces, those who co-live such as in orphanages and those who have activities on the streets and so on,” he said.

The coordinating minister also ordered the Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Ministry and the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry to procure a large number of face masks from micro and ultra-micro industries to fulfill the public need while supporting small businesses.

The government drafted the campaign amid rising cases of Covid-19 in the country after most regional administrations began easing restrictions in early June to prevent a further economic downturn.

Compliance with health protocols still leaves much to be desired. For example, the Jakarta administration announced Monday that it had collected a total of Rp 2.47 billion (US$188,120) in fines from violators of social restrictions, including from 62,198 people who were not wearing a mask.

Businesses have also been fined for failing to adhere to health protocols, such as limiting visitor capacity. According to the official government count, Indonesia has 121,226 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 5,593 deaths as of Friday (Aug 7). - Jakarta Post/Asian News Network

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