Selasa, 31 Maret 2020

ECONOMIC STIMULUS, SOCIAL SAFETY GET PRIORITY AS SLOWDOWN LOOMS by Fardah

Jakarta, March 31,  2020 - The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, declared by the WHO as a pandemic, has wreaked havoc on the global economy by disrupting supply chains, halting tourism, and triggering layoffs in several countries, including Indonesia.

Many self-employed Indonesians working in the informal sector, such as street vendors and motorcycle taxi drivers, have had to suspend their businesses on account of the virus forcing customers to stay at home.
In addition, hundreds of thousands of workers may face layoffs due to the disruption of production chains. "We are calling this a layoff emergency situation," Said Iqbal, president of the Indonesia Labor Union Confederation (KSPI) said.

On March 20, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) assured the Indonesian people that the government is ready to face the economic slowdown owing to the COVID-19 crisis.

The Indonesian government has claimed that it had put precautionary measures in place since the early stages of the coronavirus outbreak. The government's response has focused on three aspects -- safety and health; social safety net; and, economic impact.

Jokowi, who is working out of the Bogor Palace and communicating with his ministers via teleconferencing, has echoed the government’s decision to offer a social safety net and economic stimulus to MSMEs affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to help them stay afloat in the current challenging scenario.

The government will prepare an economic stimulus for MSMEs and informal businesses without delay, Jokowi remarked while chairing a limited cabinet meeting via videoconferencing in West Java, on March 30.

INDONESIAN GOVERNMENT INSISTS LOCKDOWN NOT AN OPTION YET by Fardah

Jakarta, March 31, 2020 - The question of imposing a nationwide lockdown in Indonesia is continuing to spark debate even as the authorities are weighing the pros and cons of such a move in wake of a continued rise in infections. 

As of evening on March 31, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation of 270 million people, had reached 1,528, with 136 patients succumbing to the infection and 81 patients recovering from it. The first two confirmed coronavirus cases were announced on March 2, 2020.

Globally, the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus, which first emerged in China’s town of Wuhan in December, 2019, have jumped to 803,313, with 39,014 persons dying of the disease and 172,657 persons making a complete recovery.

Given the rapid rise in infections, several parties have urged the Indonesian government to declare a nationwide or partial lockdown in certain regions vulnerable to the virus spread. They have referred to China’s success in containing the virus thanks to a strict lockdown in several cities.

However, those not in favor of a lockdown have cited India as an example, where a nationwide lockdown has triggered an exodus of migrants to their hometowns in rural regions, resulting in 22 deaths as the poor walked for hundreds of kilometers to reach their homes.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has argued large-scale physical distancing is more suitable than a lockdown for Indonesia to prevent COVID-19 transmissions.

Selasa, 17 Maret 2020

INDONESIA INTRODUCES LARGE-SCALE SOCIAL DISTANCING MEASURES by Fardah

Jakarta, March 17,  2020 -  The University of Indonesia (UI) on March 13, 2020 announced migrating from face-to-face class meetings to the online-study medium from respective homes of students until this semester ends in May 2020 to prevent the coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

The next day, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan announced that all schools would be shut down for two weeks in Jakarta and urged students to study at home, as the number of coronavirus cases had tended to increase in the capital city.

Baswedan, the former education minister, also ordered the temporary closure of tourist attractions, such as the Ragunan Zoo, Ancol Dream Land, and Monas; halted Car-Free Day activities for 14 days; and urged Jakartans to exercise social-distancing measures by staying at home for at least two weeks.

If it is not important and unproductive, please just stay at home. This needs to be done to prevent transmission, he stated.

The next day, several other universities and regional governments followed the measures applied by the Jakarta administration. The government's offices and several private offices have also decided to apply the work-from-home mechanism.

As of March 15, Indonesia had reported 21 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the nationwide total count of infections to 117, while the number of deaths stayed at five, whereas at least eight coronavirus patients recovered and were discharged from hospital.

Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi, the 76th case of COVID-19 in the country, is currently being treated in an isolation room at the Gatot Subroto Army Hospital in Jakarta. His condition is improving.

On March 11, three days before testing positive for COVID-19, the minister had attended a ministerial-level cabinet meeting led by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi).

On March 15, Jokowi and his minister underwent COVID-19 testing.

"This morning, the tests were conducted for the ministers. For the results, inquire from the health minister," the president told the press at the Bogor Presidential Palace on March 15.

While the results of the tests were not known yet, the next day, the president chaired a meeting with his ministers via videoconference to discuss the acceleration of preventive efforts to check the spread of COVID-19 and maintain economic stability in the wake of the pandemic.

Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung shared a screen capture of the meeting through his official social media account on Monday in Jakarta.

Presidential spokesperson for Social Affairs Angkie Yudistia noted that the remote meeting was in accordance with the president's call for government officials and citizens to restrain from venturing outside, unless urgent.

"Activities can be conducted at home or at a place that is not particularly crowded. They can be maximized by using online devices to connect with the outside world," she remarked.

The ministers will also communicate with all levels of the ministrys officials online to lower the likelihood of a COVID-19 outbreak.

"This is to demonstrate the government's seriousness in handling COVID-19 that has been categorized as a national disaster, so that its handling starts with prevention activities as early as possible," the presidential spokesperson remarked.

Starting March 16, protocols have been put in place to control the flow of people coming into the Presidential Palace. A disinfection chamber has also been installed for visitors entering the Presidential Palace Complex.

The Indonesian Government perceives the coronavirus outbreak as a non-natural national disaster and has decided to exercise large-scale self-distancing measures and tighten security at seaports, airports, and border gates to prevent the entry of people that might be carriers of COVID-19.

Achmad Yurianto, the government's spokesman on COVID-19, concurrently Director General of Disease Prevention and Control (P2P) of the Health Ministry, has urged people to desist from visiting public places if not necessary and apply social distancing measures.

A lockdown is, so far, not being considered to be applied in Indonesia, as it could affect the national economy, although the House of Representatives (DPR) had appealed to the government to engage experts in contemplating on imposing a lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

"We call on the government to conduct regular evaluation by inviting experts to give serious thought to implementing a lockdown if necessary," Deputy House Speaker Sufmi Dasco Ahmad had remarked on March 16.

Moreover, Indonesian House Speaker Puan Maharani had urged the government to optimize the role of the COVID Quick Handling Task Forces in executing its integrated tasks to contain the coronavirus outbreak under the National Disaster Mitigation Agencys (BNPBs) coordination.

"The integrated tasks include raising awareness, conducting early detection, treating patients, handling impacts, and rehabilitating in accordance with the WHO protocol," she noted in a statement released on March 16.

The task force must immediately announce the steps entailed in handling the COVID-19 outbreak transparently to the public, including concrete steps to avert the spread of COVID-19 that the WHO has declared as a pandemic on March 11, she emphasized.

In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) had earlier urged Indonesia to scale up response mechanisms, including declaring a national emergency, to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

In a letter to President Jokowi on March 10, WHO Director General Tedros Adhanom-Ghebreyesus wrote that every country needed to take robust measures designed to slow transmission and contain its spread.

Unfortunately, we have seen undetected or under detected cases at the early stages of the outbreak result in significant rise in cases and deaths in some countries, he wrote, without naming any country.

On March 13, Jokowi engaged in a telephonic conversation with Dr Tedros and promptly took follow-up actions, including forming a national task force to expedite efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19.

WHO, however, believed that handwashing, social distancing, and travel restrictions, while important, are not sufficient to fight the pandemic.

We have not seen an urgent enough escalation in testing, isolation, and contact tracing, which is the backbone of the response, Tedros said. It is the combination of approaches that matters.

We have a simple message for all countries: Test, test, test, every suspected case, he emphasized. Thus, people coming in close contact with those, who test positive, can be identified and tested as well.

Tedros said more tests are being produced to meet the demand, noting that the WHO had shipped almost 1.5 million tests to 120 countries.

Countries need to increase the number of labs, availability of test kits, and the number of people, who can conduct those tests, according to Dr. Maria Van Kerkhove, the technical lead for WHO Health Emergencies Program.

According to the WHO data on COVID-19 per March 16, there were 167,511 confirmed cases and 6,606 deaths globally. 

Rabu, 04 Maret 2020

Indonesians react over violence against Muslims in India by Fardah

Selasa, 03 Maret 2020

Indonesia prepares measures to handle COVID-19 cases by Fardah

Jakarta, March 3, 2020 (ANTARA) - Indonesia has now come under the clutches of Coronavirus (COVID-19), with President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) announcing on March 2, 2020, the country's first two cases.
A 64-year-old mother and her 31-year-old daughter have tested positive for the infection. The patients are currently in a stable condition while undergoing treatment in an isolation room of the Sulianti Saroso Infectious Disease Hospital in Jakarta.

The two Indonesians were in contact with a Japanese citizen, who had tested positive in Malaysia on Feb 27 after visiting Indonesia in early February.

The COVID-19 outbreak, which originated in Wuhan, China, in late 2019, is currently affecting 77 countries and territories across the world, with 91,347 cases, 3,120 deaths, and and 48,284 patients recovered, according to data on https://www.worldometers.info/coronavirus/, on March 3.

Jokowi has made assurance to the public that his government has already made necessary preparations to tackle the outbreak since it originated in China.

The government has readied over 100 hospitals applying WHO-required services, isolation rooms, medical equipment, and facility standards across the nation to handle coronavirus infection cases.

He also revealed that the government had formed a joint team comprising of military, police, and civilian members to control and manage the outbreak.

"We also have budget funding that will be prioritized to handle it (coronavirus). If we are not serious about handling it, it will be highly dangerous, and we should remain vigilant and exercise caution," he remarked.

Rabu, 19 Februari 2020

Indonesia diverts attention to domestic tourists over coronavirus by Fardah

Jakarta, Feb 19, 2020 (ANTARA) - Several tourist resorts and parks in the Lagoi integrated and exclusive tourist area on Bintan Island, Riau Islands Province, have ceased operations following the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) in China and 28 other countries.

Since January 23, 2020, the number of Chinese tourists on the island fell 100 percent after their government issued a travel advisory to the citizens over the coronavirus.

Not only in Bintan, but thousands of foreign tourists, mostly Chinese, canceled room reservations in and flight to Bali, North Sulawesi, and others, over the coronavirus outbreak, although Indonesia has, so far, remained free from coronavirus cases.

In fact, tourism industry around the globe has been hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak originating in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China.

Official figures indicated that Chinese visitors accounted for 150 million overseas trips in 2019, while Chinese tourists spent $130 billion overseas in 2018, up 13 percent from the previous year, according to data of the China Tourism Academy.

Indonesia received 1.97 million Chinese tourists in 2017, and the figure increased to 2.7 million Chinese tourists in 2018. The Tourism Ministry had set a target to attract 3.5 million Chinese last year, but the realization reached 2.07 million owing to natural disasters and the impacts of the US-China trade war.

The Indonesian Tourism Ministry has forecast that the current onslaught of the coronavirus may inflict potential losses of US$2.8 billion on Indonesia’s tourism.