Jakarta, April 14, 2020 (ANTARA) - Indonesia, which declared the coronavirus outbreak a national emergency ever since it emerged in March, has finally accorded the pandemic national disaster status as it has now spread to all 34 provinces in the country.
President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) signed a letter (number 12/2020), dated 13 April, 2020, on the national disaster status and the appointment of head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), Doni Monardo, to lead the COVID-19 task force.
The Task Force for the Accelerated Handling of COVID-19 will work on mitigating the impact of the pandemic through coordinated effort with the concerned ministries, government agencies, and regional administrations.
Jokowi has also assigned governors, district heads, and city mayors as heads of the COVID-19 task forces in their respective regions. While drawing up regional policies, they will be required to refer to the policies formulated by the central government.
As of April 14, Indonesia has reported 4,839 confirmed cases. While the death toll from the contagion has reached 459, a total of 426 patients have completely recovered from the infection.
On March 31, President Jokowi signed Government Regulation No. 21 of 2020 on the imposition of Large-Scale Social Distancing (PSBB) measures to break the chain of COVID-19 transmission in the country.
Guidelines have been set forth for local governments for implementing PSBB in the Minister of Health's Regulation (Permenkes) No. 9 of 2020 on accelerating the response to the COVID-19 crisis.
As per the health minister's regulation,PSBB applications submitted by local governments need to be accompanied with data on the number of confirmed cases and maps of their distribution, among other things.
Furthermore, regional governments need to provide comprehensive information on preparations made for food assistance for the low-income group, health facilities and infrastructure, budgeting and social safety nets, and security aspects.
Jakarta, South Tangerang, Tangerang City and Tangerang District in Banten Province, Bogor District, Bogor City, Depok City, Bekasi City and Bekasi District in West Java Province, and Pekanbaru City in Riau Province have received approval from the task force for implementing PSBB.
Since Jokowi announced Indonesia’s first COVID-19 cases on March 2, Jakarta reported the highest number of cases in the country, prompting its governor to mull curbing the movement of people in and out of the capital.
Finally, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan issued Governor Regulation No. 33 of 2020 on imposing PSBB in the capital, effective from April 10, after obtaining approval from Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto.
Indonesia's capital is the first city in the country to impose large-scale social restrictions to stem the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), according to Anies.
In line with Government Regulation Number 21 of 2020 on PSBB and Presidential Decree Number 11 of 2020 on Declaring Community Health Emergency over coronavirus (COVID-9), local governments can apply PSBB to restrict the movement of people and goods in provincial, district, or city areas, with the approval of the minister in charge of health affairs.
According to the regulation, applications for implementing PSBB need to be based on epidemiological considerations, magnitude of threat, effectiveness, resource support, as well as operational, technical, political, economic, social, cultural, defense, and security considerations.
As per government regulations, PSBB implementation would involve closing schools and offices, restricting religious activities, and/or restricting activities in public places or facilities at the least. Restrictions on school, work, and religious activities, according to the regulations, need to take into account the educational, work productivity, and worship requirements of the population.
Meanwhile, chairman of the Task Force for Acceleration of COVID-19 Handling Lt Gen. Doni Monardo has highlighted that several regions are still awaiting the central government’s approval on applying PSBB measures to halt coronavirus transmissions.
The approval is yet to be given as several regions have submitted incomplete data on budget allocations and operational costs that would be incurred to support the imposition of PSBB, Monardo explained.
"Though no rejection (has been issued), but (it is necessary) to complete the requirements (for the PSBB application process). This is since some areas have minimal requirements. Some have proposed PSBB, but the budget allocated for implementing the measure is not in accordance with the estimated operational costs. Hence, improvements have been deemed necessary," Doni stated during a virtual press conference on April 13.
To win the war against COVID-19, an invisible enemy, cooperation between the government and people at large is vital.
The least that citizens can do is to stay at home, while doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers battle the virus and save lives.