Indonesia to issue lockdown

Decontaminate: Boarding school students reacting as a worker sprays disinfectant on them before they travel back home by bus, amid the spread of Covid-19 in Jombang, near Surabaya. — Reuters

THE government is drafting a regulation to stipulate the procedures and requirements for imposing regional quarantines, also known as lockdowns, a minister says, as confirmed cases of Covid-19 continue to surge in the country.

Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Minister Mahfud MD told journalists during a teleconference interview on Friday that the central government had been speeding up the regulation’s drafting so that it could be issued immediately.

“The regulation will stipulate matters such as at what time certain regions can impose restrictions of movement, or what is usually known as a lockdown, as well as the requirements, the boundaries and the procedures,” Mahfud said on Friday.

The minister had so far only revealed a little information about the draft, only saying that the planned regulation might urge regions imposing lockdowns to open access for distribution of supplies during the quarantine period.

He also said that minimarkets or grocery stores might still have to operate to provide basic needs for the public, but under heavy supervision from the government.

The drafting of the regulation, Mahfud said, was mandated by Article 10 of the 2018 Health Quarantine Law, which stipulates that during public health emergencies, the central government can impose lockdowns on regions that experience an outbreak of a disease.

As coronavirus infections and the death toll from COVID-19 continue to surge, calls have been mounting over past weeks for President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to lock down virus-plagued areas, especially as more cases recorded in many of the country’s regions were linked to cities with the most severe outbreaks, particularly those in the Greater Jakarta area.

Medical professors from the University of Indonesia’s (UI) School of Medicine were among the latest to call for “local lockdowns” as they argued that the central government’s policy of physical distancing only was not “effective” to curb the coronavirus spread.

Jokowi, however, had so far remained adamant against imposing lockdowns because of the social and economic concerns as he instead called for the public to stay at home and leaned toward extensive COVID-19 rapid testing to gain a view of the virus’ spread.

Indonesia had recorded 1,046 coronavirus cases and 87 fatalities as of Friday, making the country’s mortality rate among the highest in the world at 8.3 percent.

Mahfud acknowledged that in recent days a number of regional administrations in the country had imposed their versions of lockdown even though the central government had yet to issue any supporting regulation. — The Jakarta Post/ANN
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