Jakarta governor contracts COVID-19 as Indonesia infections spike


Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan shows a chart during an interview at his office amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 17, 2020. REUTERS/Yuddy Cahya Budiman

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Anies Baswedan, the governor of the Indonesian capital Jakarta, said on Tuesday he had tested positive for COVID-19, as the world's fourth most populous country struggles to contain a spike in the number of infections.

The 51-year-old governor of Southeast Asia's biggest city is among a number of politicians and officials to contract the virus. Indonesia's transportation and religious affairs ministers have previously been treated for the virus.

In a video posted on his Instagram account, the governor said he was currently asymptomatic and would self-isolate.

"I would like to remind everyone that COVID is still around and can come to anyone," he said.

His deputy, Ahmad Riza Patria, also tested positive to the virus on Sunday, according to the city's website.

Indonesia, a country of 270 million people, has posted three days of record-high case numbers in the past week.

With more than 530,000 infections and nearly 17,000 deaths, the country has the highest tallies in Southeast Asia, though some health experts say limited testing and contact tracing is masking a far higher caseload.

Jakarta, a bustling megacity, has also recorded new record highs in infections over the past month, with an average of around 1,240 cases per day in the past week.

Unlike some neighbouring countries, Indonesia has not brought in strict national lockdowns but opted for local curbs.

Since October, Jakarta's governor has relaxed curbs to reinstate "large-scale social restrictions," which means malls and restaurants can operate though with shorter hours.

Some health experts and officials have linked the recent spike in cases to mass gatherings in an around the capital.

This has included thousands joining street protests against a new job creation law and large gatherings, often with little social distancing, to mark the return from exile of controversial Islamic cleric Rizieq Shihab.

(Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Kate Lamb and Ed Davies)

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