Emergency measures to check spread invoked in Jakarta

  • Indonesia
  • Tuesday, 24 Mar 2020

Direct check: Joko inspecting facilities at the emergency hospital at the Athlete’s Village in Kemayoran, Jakarta. — Reuters

JAKARTA: Indonesia’s capital has shut down cinemas and other public entertainment at the start of a two-week emergency period to try to slow the accelerating spread of the coronavirus in South-East Asia’s biggest city.

But the new measures, which include urging people to work from home, still fall short of the tougher lockdowns imposed by neighbouring countries amid concerns among some experts that the archipelago of 260 million people is not doing enough to contain the Covid-19 pandemic.

National police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said 465,000 police across Indonesia would disperse any public gatherings “for the sake of public safety” though a photograph posted on social media of a packed commuter train in Jakarta quickly went viral.

President Joko Widodo yesterday offered his condolences after a medical association said six doctors and nurses had died after they contracted the virus.

“I would like to thank them for their hard work and dedication in dealing with Covid-19,” said Joko at the opening of an emergency hospital on the site of the “Athlete’s Village” built for the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta.

Indonesia has so far confirmed a total of 514 cases of the virus and 48 deaths, mainly concentrated in Jakarta.

The city’s governor on Friday admitted that medical staff were already getting overstretched with the number of patients they had to treat.

Joko announced that doctors and other medical staff would receive bonuses ranging from five million rupiah to 15 million rupiah (RM1,300 to 4,000) per month in regions that had declared an emergency.

Aside from Jakarta, the East Java region has also declared a state of emergency.

The president has so far resisted calls for tougher lockdowns due to concerns about the impact on businesses and the poor, many of whom are vendors plying their trade on the streets.

The normally traffic-clogged streets of the city of 10 million were far quieter than usual yesterday, and student volunteers at a crossing on a major road held up signs urging people to avoid crowds and stay home.

But Rocky Margiano Simanjuntak, 23, posted a photograph on social media from inside a packed early morning train on his way to work in the city at a bank.

“Government policies seem to be only half measures, just an appeal,” he said via a message on his Instagram account.

He added that public transportation should not be limited unless the authorities enforced rules to make people stay at home. — Reuters

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shut down , emergency , coronavirus


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