The Jakarta Post
A pair of newlyweds (left) greet their guests as they hold a drive-through wedding party in Bekasi, West Java, on Aug. 8. The government has urged families in Indonesia to avoid large gatherings as family clusters emerge during the pandemic. (Antara/Fakhri Hermansyah)
As the COVID-19 global pandemic has yet to show any signs of slowing down, and with Indonesia just setting a new record with daily cases exceeding 5,000 on Friday, is it really safe to host gatherings of family or friends?
Iahn Gonsenhauser, chief quality and patient safety officer at Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, would not recommend get-togethers just yet.
Nevertheless, "if people are going to choose to still get together in person, there are some things you can do to lower your risk but nothing you can do to remove your risk completely," said Gonsenhauser recently as quoted by livescience.com.
If one decides to get together in person, he went on to say that the best choice that was still quite low-risk was to drive up to people's houses and spend a bit of time in the driveway or front yard, while maintaining social distancing, keeping masks on and avoiding hugs and kisses.
Gonsenhauser’s take is line with the CDC’s recommendation as the United States prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving.
“The safest way to celebrate Thanksgiving this year is to celebrate with people in your household. If you do plan to spend Thanksgiving with people outside your household, take steps to make your celebration safer,” said the CDC on its website, cdc.gov.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organization said that any decision to hold an event during the COVID-19 pandemic, no matter how large or small, should rely on a risk-based approach.
The WHO has provided guidance on how such a risk-based approach can be taken, which can be accessed on its website, who.int.
Among the recommendations to avoid getting infected by the virus from attending an event are always to check local regulations prior to the visit, staying home if feeling unwell and always complying with basic preventative measures.
The measures are maintaining at least 1-meter distance from others, and wearing a mask if you cannot guarantee this distance; covering a sneeze or cough with a tissue or bent elbow and immediately disposing of the tissue in a closed-lid bin, avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth; and washing hands frequently with soap and water or with a hand sanitizer.
Indonesia’s COVID-19 task force confirmed 5,444 new cases on Friday, the highest single-day figure the country has seen, as the cumulative death toll passed 15,000, two weeks after a long weekend during which thousands of people traveled throughout the country.
Friday was the first time daily cases surpassed 5,000. The previous one-day record was 4,850 new cases, reported on Oct. 8.
Authorities and experts previously voiced concerns that the extended long weekend observed in the country in late October would lead to a spike in cases.
Hundreds of thousands of people, many departing from Jakarta, packed airports and toll roads as they traveled to tourist destinations throughout the country.
Despite these concerns, the number of administered tests declined after the holiday, resulting in the detection of fewer cases – 2,000 to 3,000 on some days. This was attributed to labs reducing their hours and staff over the holiday. (nkn)
Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.
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