Jakarta declares emergency over coronavirus (update)

Indonesian Muslims praying at a mosque during the Friday Prayers gathering in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Friday (March 20). After the prayers, the governor of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on Friday (March 20) declared a state of emergency for the next two weeks in the city, the centre of Indonesia’s Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. Cases has been rising in the city over the last week. - Reuters

JAKARTA: The governor of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta on Friday (March 20) declared a state of emergency for the next two weeks in the city, the centre of Indonesia’s Covid-19 (coronavirus) outbreak.

Governor Anies Baswedan told a news conference that public entertainment would be stopped from Monday and public transportation limited.

He urged companies to let staff work from home.

Earlier on Friday, the Red Cross International had announced that Indonesia is likely to have a far higher number of coronavirus cases than it has reported due to low levels of testing and needs to consider tougher measures like lockdowns, the head of the association told Reuters.

The world's fourth most populous country has gone from zero reported cases to 309 in less than three weeks and the death toll has hit 25, higher than any other South-East Asian country.

But there was a strong prospect the cases were still being underestimated, said Jusuf Kalla, a former two-term vice president of Indonesia and chairman of the country's Red Cross.

Indonesia's finance minister on Friday also had raised the country's crisis management protocol level to "standby" from "alert" and warned that if the Covid-19 outbreak persisted, economic growth could fall to between 0%-2.5%.

Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said her baseline scenario was for GDP growth at above 4%, while the scenario of no growth assumed the coronavirus outbreak lasting three to six months, global trade slumping and Indonesia going into lockdown. Indonesia's GDP grew 5.02% last year.

Faced by the rising death toll from coronavirus and a big jump in infections, Indonesia's president on Thursday also had called for testing to be stepped up immediately in the world's fourth most populous country.

"I ask that the number of testing kits and the number of test centres are increased and we get more hospitals involved," President Joko Widodo said.

The presidential palace said both he and his wife had tested negative for the virus.

Indonesia has faced criticism from medical workers for a slow start to testing that might have more quickly revealed the scale of the problem in an archipelago that spans a distance wider than the continental United States. - Reuters

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