COVID-19: Well-prepared emergency status, lockdown keys to protecting economy, economists say

first_imgEconomists are calling for a well-prepared lockdown and an emergency status declaration to further save the country from widespread COVID-19 coronavirus infections and soften hard-hitting effects on the economy.Senior economist Faisal Basri wrote on his twitter account (@FaisalBasri) that the government should halt construction of its new capital and “unite all the nation’s power” instead.”To save Indonesia, the President has to immediately declare an emergency war against the coronavirus. That is also the key to save the economy,” Faisal wrote. Untuk menyelamatkan Indonesia, Presiden harus segera menyatakan darurat perang melawan coronavirus. Itu juga kunci menyelamatkan ekonomi.— Faisal Basri (@FaisalBasri) March 16, 2020 The country has yet to set a national emergency status. However, Banten and Tangerang in West Java and Surakarta in Central Java are among those that have already declared extraordinary occurrence (KLB) statuses. Jakarta and Surakarta have both closed their schools as Jakarta mulls over a lockdown plan.Read also: Regions close schools, cancel public events because of COVID-19center_img Center of Reform on Economics (Core) Indonesia research director Piter Abdullah said that authorities should meticulously plan a lockdown before executing one, as quoted by Kontan. He said that an unprepared lockdown could hurt the informal players and producers as the move could diminish resources used for production. Such unpreparedness would make the recovery take longer and the negative economic impacts worse, he said.He said the government has seemed hesitant about taking drastic measures to save the economy as it faces a dilemma between fighting the coronavirus and saving the economy, citing several stimulus packages as an example.Indonesia announced last Friday it is allocating Rp 120 trillion from the state budget to stimulate the economy through tax incentives and subsidies for workers, businesses and families affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic.The second stimulus package announced on the same day, worth Rp 22.9 trillion, would include individual and corporate tax breaks, as well as relaxation of loans disbursement and restructuring. These add to a Rp 10.3 trillion stimulus package announcement on Feb. 25 that boosts staple needs and mortgage subsidies for low-income families and fiscal incentives for travel-related industries.The government would also speed up disbursement of social spending in the first quarter, as well as the new training subsidies connected to the pre-employment card this month.”If we’re going to execute a lockdown, its impact will certainly be significant, as if we are turning the economy off. All of this needs to be anticipated and prepared with solutions,” he said.He said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s latest appeal for people to stay at home has failed to take shape in several regions since companies and government offices are still open, resulting in congested public transportation.In his first national address on the COVID-19 outbreak last Sunday, the President highlighted the importance of practicing what is called “social distancing” to stop the spread of the coronavirus that has already claimed thousands of lives worldwide.Topics :last_img read more

COVID-19: House to open next session on March 30 at Senayan

first_imgThe legislature is located in Senayan, Jakarta, the epicenter of Indonesia’s COVID-19 epidemic. The House has been in recess since Feb. 28.”The third session has been decided to begin on March 30,” lawmaker Arsul Sani of the United Development Party (PPP) faction, who is also a deputy speaker of the People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR), told the press on Thursday.He added that although the House would not extend its recess further, it would follow the government’s health emergency protocols during the plenary meeting to open the session, including maintaining adequate seating distance. All lawmakers who came to the plenary meeting must also have their body temperature checked before entering.“Some House members will be asked to sit in the balcony, which is usually reserved for visitors,” he said.Arsul went on to say that he had recommended that the House leadership keep the opening meeting brief by providing the relevant material to lawmakers beforehand, so the House Speaker would not need to read it out loud during the meeting.Lawmakers and their families had been scheduled to be tested for COVID-19 on Thursday and Friday in the Kalibata and Ulujami areas of South Jakarta. Journalists assigned to cover the legislature had also been scheduled to be tested for COVID-19 along with the lawmakers.The House had bought 40,000 rapid test kits expressly for this purpose, funded by donations from several lawmakers.However, the plan has been postponed until further notice following wide public criticism.Thousands of people have signed a petition calling for the plan to be canceled on, as there are many sick people across the country who were still finding it difficult to be tested.Three opposition parties – the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), the National Mandate Party (PAN) and the Democratic Party – have also objected to the plan, saying that the House should be providing the test kits for free to those who could not afford them as well as to medical workers on the front lines.Indonesia has reported 790 confirmed cases of COVID-19 to date, including 58 deaths.Topics : After extending its recess from March 22 until March 29 following the emergence of the COVID-19 outbreak in Indonesia, the House of Representatives has decided to commence its next session on March 30.last_img read more

Athletes qualified for Tokyo 2020 will keep 2021 spots

first_imgAthletes who had already qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics before they were postponed will keep their places when the showpiece takes place in 2021, sources told AFP on Thursday.Around 57% of the 11,000 scheduled participants for Tokyo had already made sure of taking part when the International Olympic Committee (IOC) pushed the Games back to 2021 due to the coronavirus on Tuesday.The IOC and 32 international sports federations held a teleconference on Thursday where it was decided to respect the qualification process. However, there is no definite date yet for the rescheduled Games with Bach saying Tuesday the Tokyo Olympics “must be rescheduled to a date beyond 2020 but not later than summer 2021, to safeguard the health of the athletes, everybody involved in the Olympic Games and the international community”.Many Olympic sports, such as boxing, saw the vast majority of their qualifying tournaments either interrupted or cancelled due to the global health situation.Others, such as sailing however, already had 90% of their competitors qualified. “The allocated quotas remain allocated,” confirmed another participant in Thursday’s meeting.”Thomas Bach has confirmed that a decision [on a new date for the 2021 event] will be made within the next four weeks,” he said. “Some said they prefer May 2021, others June …” Some federation chiefs also expressed financial concerns, claiming in advance part of the sums traditionally allocated after the Olympic Games by the IOC to the governing bodies.  “Thomas Bach (the IOC President) first explained the reasons for the postponement of the Games, then said that the athletes qualified for Tokyo 2020 would automatically be qualified for 2021,” one of the participants in the conference told AFP.”One of the main subjects was to know when and how to organize the qualifications. “In some federations, many sportsmen and sportswomen are not qualified and it takes at least three months for the Olympic Games to organise them.”The 2020 Tokyo Games were scheduled for July 24-August 9, but after telephone discussions between Bach and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, a historic joint decision was taken for the first postponement of an Olympics in peacetimecenter_img Topics :last_img read more

Indonesia’s indigenous tribes use rituals, customs to ward off coronavirus

first_imgRead also: Bappenas, UI modeling shows grim projection of COVID-19 spread in Indonesia”Coughs and the common flu can spread very quickly from one person to another, from one group to the others,” Temanggung said on Monday.”So if one tribe member catches a cold, he will be separated from the rest of the group so the disease won’t spread to other members.”The tribe believes that sickness and disease spread through river water, so the sick ones should stay around the downstream area while the healthy tribe members remain in the upstream.”Sick people will walk to the downstream area or we will carry them if they can no longer walk. We will create a sudung [hut] for them to live in,” he said.The tribe then assigns a small group of people to hunt boars for those who are sick. Other healthy tribe members clean and roast the meat and then leave the food at a certain place close to the sick people.The person who delivers the food gives a signal to tell the sick ones to take the meal. Tumenggung said the tribe members usually also sent them coffee, sugar and tobacco.In the besasandingon custom, the tribe also believes that interaction with sick people should be avoided at all costs. If tribe members happen to cross paths with those who are sick, they should keep a physical distance of 10 meters, he said.”There’s no certain time limit for the separation. It can be a week or months,” Temanggung said, “If the sick members have recovered, they can return to join the rest of the tribe.”According to Indonesian Conservation Community (KKI) Warsi data, there are around 5,235 people in the Suku Anak Dalam tribe, most of whom live in a 60,500-hectare area of TNBD. Only around 862 members of the tribe live outside the national park.Read also: Indonesia bans entry of foreigners to curb spread of coronavirusThe tribe members are among millions of indigenous people from various groups living in remote and customary forests areas across the archipelago, many of whom still reportedly do not own e-ID cards and face difficulties in accessing health facilities.So far, no confirmed coronavirus cases have been reported among indigenous tribes in the country out of the total 1,528 COVID-19 cases nationwide, however, experts believe that indigenous people are among the most vulnerable to the spread of contagious diseases.Marahalim Siagian, an independent social consultant and forest protection specialist, said infectious diseases such as the cold, smallpox and dysentery could spread very quickly among indigenous tribes.”Up to 50 percent of their population could be infected in the first two weeks of an outbreak,” said Marahalim, who was formerly with nonprofit bird conservation organization Burung Indonesia.Indigenous tribes therefore devise a system that allows them to keep their distance from the sick, such as in the case of the Suku Anak Dalam tribe, he said. The healthy tribe members even use different roads and water sources from those who are sick, he said.Tribe members generally believe that they contract diseases because they interact with village residents around the forest.Marahalim said the sick members of the tribe depended on themselves as individuals to defeat the disease. “If their body can fight the disease, they will recover and return to their tribe. If not, they will die,” he said. (nal/trn)Topics : “We asked our ancestors to close the doors to prevent the virus from coming in,” Seso tribe leader Damianus Tarung said on Monday.Damianus said that the tribes decided to perform the rituals as many East Manggarai residents started to feel wary over the novel coronavirus, which has already killed some 136 people in Indonesia to date.Meanwhile in Jambi, the Suku Anak Dalam nomadic tribe living in the province’s Bukit Duabelas National Park (TNBD) prepared a method to deal with the infectious disease called besasandingon, a sort of physical-distancing system that they have long implemented every time such an outbreak takes place.Tumenggung Tarib, one of the leaders of the tribe, which is also known as the Orang Rimba, said that the system had traditionally been applied to curb diseases with fast transmission such as influenza within one community. Indigenous communities across Indonesia are scrambling with their own ways to prevent COVID-19 from spreading in their homelands, with each performing their respective customs and rituals to keep the contagious respiratory disease at bay.In East Nusa Tenggara, leaders of the indigenous Kengge, Seso and Rongga tribes gathered at Mbolata Beach in East Manggarai on Monday to perform traditional rituals known as podo to ward off the infectious disease from reaching their communities.During the rituals, the tribe members provided a black male rooster and an egg as offertory symbols, as well as performing Pele Le Tadu Lau, or Pele Le Galu Lalu — roughly translating as “closing all access”, to ask for the spirit of their ancestors to give them help.last_img read more

BWF cancels international tournaments amid COVID-19 pandemic

first_imgThe PBSI has decided to continue preparing for the Indonesian tournament, including planning the event and reserving the tournament’s location.Here is the list of competitions cancelled by the BWF between May and July:The BWF has also frozen its world rankings until further notice. The latest rankings, which will be used for tournament registration, are those listed as of March 17.Topics : “We understand the situation and support the BWF’s decision, especially seeing that the emergency period for COVID-19 has been extended until the end of May. Therefore, it will be impossible to hold the tournament on its original schedule,” Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) secretary-general Achmad Budiharto said in a statement on Tuesday.He added that the association had sent a request to the federation to move the tournament’s date to September.Read also: Athletes find way to cope with boredom during social distancing“We will maintain our coordination with the BWF. We have also discussed several alternative dates for the tournament in Indonesia,” Achmad went on to say. The Badminton World Federation (BWF) has cancelled a number of tournaments scheduled from May to July in light of the COVID-19 pandemic after previously suspending dozens of other tournaments.Four Grade 2 tournaments and nine Grade 3 tournaments will be suspended indefinitely, according to the federation. One of the cancelled tournaments was the 2020 Blibli Indonesia Open, which was to be held in Jakarta from June 16 to 21.last_img read more

Hong Kong to lift major social restrictions as virus fades

first_imgHong Kong on Tuesday announced plans to ease major social distancing measures, including reopening schools, cinemas, bars and beauty parlors after the Chinese territory largely halted local transmission of the deadly coronavirus.The relaxation, which comes into effect Friday, will be a boost for a city mired in a deep recession following months of virus restrictions as well as anti-government protests that have battered the economy.Authorities also unveiled plans to hand out reusable face masks to all 7.5 million city residents. But a ban on more than four people gathering in public or eating together in restaurants will be stepped up to eight.Many businesses that were ordered to close will be allowed to open once more, albeit with restrictions in place.Bars and restaurants will be permitted to operate but must ensure a distance of 1.5 meters between tables. Live music performances and dancing however will remain banned.Cinemas can start showing films to reduced crowds while gyms, beauty, massage and mahjong parlors will re-open with hygiene protocols in place such as the use of masks, hand sanitizer and temperature checks.Nightclubs and karaoke bars must stay closed.Hong Kong’s economy dropped an 8.9 percent on-year contraction in the first quarter of this year — the worst decline since the government began compiling data in 1974.Retail sales figures released Tuesday showed a 37 percent plunge over the same period, another record dip. Even before the pandemic, tourism and retail had taken a hammering from the US-China trade war and months of political unrest last year.At Tuesday’s briefing Lam and other officials also sported a new type of mask made of fabric that they said would be distributed to all residents in the coming weeks.When the virus first emerged, Hong Kongers started panic-buying masks as anger grew against the government for failing to stockpile enough supplies. Since then local production has been ramped up and masks are plentiful in pharmacies and shops. Topics :center_img Hong Kong recorded some of the earliest confirmed COVID-19 cases outside of mainland China but despite its close proximity and links with the mainland it has managed to keep infections to around 1,000 with four deaths.There have been no new confirmed infections in 10 of the last 16 days and the cases that have been recorded came from people arriving from overseas who are quickly quarantined.”I hope these measures will be a silver lining for citizens,” the city’s leader Carrie Lam told reporters Tuesday as she spelt out the easing of curbs.Older secondary students will start returning to classes from May 27 while younger children will resume school in the first half of June.last_img read more

East Java, second hardest-hit province after Jakarta, struggles to control virus spread

first_imgHe said the PDPs had more than a 60 percent chance of being infected with the virus.East Java, the home base of the country’s largest Islamic organization Nahdlatul Ulama (NU), is torn between virus-containment efforts and religious customs, especially during Ramadan.Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa last week decided to allow mass prayers in mosques, including for Idul Fitri, after she learned about the Indonesian Ulema Council’s (MUI) suggestion that the province open mosques for Idul Fitri mass prayers as long as the activity follows health procedures. On Monday, she retracted the permit.Read also: COVID-19 kills elderly, haunts the young in Indonesia Experts have criticized the weak enforcement and poor compliance in the first period of PSBB in Greater Surabaya between April 28 and May 11. Authorities have extended the PSBB until May 25.A recent online survey conducted by the alumni association of Airlangga University’s School of Public Health found that places of worship, offices and factories mostly remained operational without health protocols.Windhu blamed the central government for aggravating the situation in East Java by allowing factories to stay in operation nationwide even in areas under the PSBB.East Java Manpower and Transmigration Agency recorded more than 6,000 companies or factories continuing to operate across the province, including in PSBB-imposed areas.Local health authorities recently discovered a new cluster of infections from the Surabaya factory of tobacco giant HM Sampoerna, which was still running during the early implementation of the PSBB and was later temporarily closed after two of its workers died of COVID-19. As of May 11, at least 41 confirmed cases were linked to the factory.Authorities have identified 72 transmission clusters across the province so far.Among the first and largest clusters was a training session for haj tour organizers at the Surabaya haj dormitory in mid-March, which saw some 400 officials gather from health and religious affairs agencies in East Java, Bali and East Nusa Tenggara. At least 167 confirmed cases have been linked to that event, with many of the participants becoming sources of new transmissions in their respective regions.Dozens of confirmed COVID-19 cases in East Java were imported from Greater Jakarta and more than half of its total confirmed cases were from unknown sources of infection.”The higher the proportion of cases with sources of infection the authorities fail to identify, the worse the situation we are facing. It is uncontrolled and we cannot even estimate the real number of infections,” Windhu said.Read also: COVID-19 creeps into Jakarta’s kampungsHalf of the patients admitted to the Dr. Soetomo COVID-19 referral hospital in Surabaya said they did not know where they had contracted the virus, only that they had been in a crowd in the past 14 days, according to the hospital’s head of emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, Soedarsono.COVID-19 national task force chief Doni Monardo said on Monday that the province had seen a 70 percent spike in weekly cases, while the number of filled hospital beds in East Java was relatively higher than other provinces. About 95.2 percent of hospital beds at Dr. Soetomo Hospital and 73.5 percent at Saiful Anwar Hospital in Malang were filled, he said.East Java has a total of 132 beds in negative-pressure isolation rooms with ventilators, 693 beds in negative-pressure rooms, 1,500 beds in standard isolation rooms and 950 beds in observation rooms, according to data from the provincial COVID-19 task force.Soedarsono said around 30 percent of COVID-19 inpatients at Dr. Soetomo Hospital were admitted to the intensive care unit — 60 percent of whom needed breathing aids.New patients, he said, kept coming to the hospital and the backlog of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing left current patients with no option but to stay longer at the hospital pending their test results, which would hopefully see them clear of the virus and free to leave the hospital.But looking at mere numbers would not be enough to raise people’s awareness of how serious the disease was, he said.”It is probably because people do not know what is happening in the hospitals; how their friends and neighbors are suffering in hospitals while hospital workers have become exhausted,” he said.Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify that Nahdlatul Ulama did not pressure East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa into allowing mass prayer in mosques. We apologize for the error.Topics : East Java has become the province second hardest-hit by COVID-19 after Jakarta, with patients overwhelming healthcare facilities.The province, home to some 40 million people, reported on Thursday a record jump of 502 new cases in a day, taking the total confirmed cases to 2,998 and 241 deaths, with only 403 patients having recovered, according to the central government’s tally.It is the highest daily spike ever recorded by any province in Indonesia, even surpassing that of Jakarta.Half of East Java’s confirmed cases were reported in its capital Surabaya, Indonesia’s second-largest city and a thriving trade hub.East Java has recorded 5,274 patients under surveillance (PDPs) and 23,151 people under observation (ODPs), who are suspected of having contracted the virus but have not yet been tested or are waiting for their test results to come back, with 601 fatalities recorded among these two groups.Yet, the provincial administration has only imposed large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in Surabaya and its two satellite regencies Sidoarjo and Gresik, and in Malang city and neighboring Batu city and Malang regency, despite all of East Java’s 38 cities and regencies having confirmed at least one case each.”We have recommended that the PSBB should be enforced in the entire province before all the cities and regencies in East Java are declared red zones. The number of PDPs in East Java is very high […] stretching throughout the province,” said Windhu Purnomo, a leading epidemiologist at Surabaya-based Airlangga University’s School of Public Health.last_img read more

Commuter line keeps physical distancing measure during COVID-19 ‘new normal’

first_img“Wearing a mask in stations and inside trains will remain mandatory, as well as the physical distancing measures and body temperature checks,” PT KCI spokesperson Anne Purba said in a statement on Thursday.She added that the number of passengers on trains would still be limited during rush hour. If a car is overloaded, the train will not depart until the number of passengers is reduced.Read also: Greater Jakarta in dark about ‘new normal’ commuteThe KCI has also provided more hand-washing facilities in stations. Hand sanitizer will also be available both in stations and carried by officers on trains. Commuter line operator PT Kereta Commuter Indonesia (KCI) has asserted that it will maintain COVID-19 health protocols as Jakarta and its satellite cities brace for the transition to the so-called “new normal” period.The government has urged the public to adjust to the “new normal” – meaning people would be allowed to resume activities of working and commuting to the capital by using public transportation.However, concerns have been raised among Greater Jakarta commuters over whether commuting to work in jam-packed commuter trains would be safe for them during the pandemic, especially after asymptomatic passengers tested positive for COVID-19 in Bogor and Bekasi stations in West Java earlier this month. “We also routinely disinfect both the trains and the stations at least nine times a day,” Anne said.The train operator will not provide rugs, sajadah (prayer mats), sarung and mukena (women’s prayer gowns) in station prayer rooms to prevent virus transmission among passengers.The KCI also advised its passengers not to talk nor make phone calls when aboard the train in order to prevent transmission through respiratory droplets.Commuter line passengers are also encouraged to use cashless transactions with multi-trip cards, e-money cards and e-wallet application LinkAja to minimize the risk of transmission.Anne went on to say the operator had equipped several officers at stations and on trains with face shields.Despite the new normal, the KCI suggested it was best not to go outside and use public transportation, except for very urgent matters. “Avoid making crowds and taking trains during rush hour if necessary,” said Anne.Topics :last_img read more

Paris, Marseille named as high-risk COVID zones, making curbs likelier

first_imgTopics : The government move gives local authorities in Paris and the Bouches-du-Rhone area powers to limit the circulation of people and vehicles, restrict access to public transport and air travel, limit access to public buildings and close restaurants, bars and other establishments.Paris and Marseille had in recent days already made the wearing of face masks mandatory in busy public areas.Late on Thursday Britain said it would impose a 14-day quarantine on all arrivals from France from Saturday because of the spike in infection rates.The Netherlands and four other countries were also added to the UK quarantine list that already included Spain and Belgium.Making Paris and Marseilles red zones could have a major impact on tourism, as it could lead other countries to impose quarantines on their citizens returning from those areas.  The French government on Friday declared Paris and Marseille and its surrounding area high-risk zones for the coronavirus, granting authorities there powers to impose localized curbs to contain the spread of the disease.The declaration, made in a government decree, follows a sharp increase in COVID-19 infections in France over the past two weeks.On Thursday, France reported more than 2,500 new COVID-19 infections for the second day in a row, levels last seen in mid-April when the country was in the middle of one of Europe’s strictest lockdowns.last_img read more

100 doctors in Indonesia have died from COVID-19: IDI

first_imgIDI chairman Daeng M. Fiqih told The Jakarta Post that the association had coordinated with the national COVID-19 task force and relevant departments to ensure the availability of protective equipment in hospitals and health facilities so as to prevent more deaths among health workers.“Hospitals should issue a special policy that temporarily prohibits health personnel with comorbidities and those who are at higher risk [of contracting the coronavirus] from working,” he said, adding that health professionals should also be required to regularly take polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests to ensure a safe working environment.Furthermore, he also urged hospitals to create a work schedule in accordance with doctors’ physical health to prevent fatigue, which makes them more vulnerable to the virus.“Every stakeholder should work together to support hospitals in implementing those measures,” Daeng said.Read also: For some Indonesians, COVID-19 stigma worse than disease It is known that 100 doctors have died from COVID-19 as the number of cases and fatalities across the archipelago continue to mount, according to the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI).The IDI broke the news on Monday in a written statement, which also included a list of names of health professionals who had succumbed to the contagious respiratory disease.Among them are doctors from Airlangga University’s School of Medicine and Soetomo Hospital in Surabaya, East Java – Miftah Fawzy Sarengat and Putri Wulan Sukmawati. In Medan, North Sumatra, two doctors — Daud Ginting, 66, and Edwin Parlindungan Marpaung, 44 — died from COVID-19 while receiving treatments in different hospitals on Sunday.Daud died at 2 a.m. on Sunday following a week of treatment at Martha Friska Multatuli Hospital, which he was referred and admitted to after previously being hospitalized for a week at Mitra Sejati Hospital, said Wijaya Juwarna, the chairman of IDI’s Medan chapter.The late doctor, who previously worked at Pirngadi Hospital, succumbed to the disease at the same hospital where his wife was being treated after testing positive for COVID-19, Wijaya said. “As of [Monday], Daud’s wife is still undergoing intensive treatment at Martha Friska Multatuli Hospital,” he told the Post on Monday.Edwin, an orthopedic doctor, died at Columbia Asia Hospital in Medan at 9:44 p.m. on Sunday, Wijaya added.The Health Ministry announced 2,858 new confirmed COVID-19 cases on Sunday, bringing the total number of infections nationwide to 172,053. According to data released by the ministry on Sunday, 82 more people have died of the disease, bringing the death toll to 7,343.Earlier this month, IDI spokesperson Halik Malik said the majority of doctors who died from COVID-19 were between 28 and 39 years old.Topics :last_img read more