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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: WHO urges Jokowi to declare national emergency

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, March 14, 2020   /   03:45 pm
COVID-19: WHO urges Jokowi to declare national emergency World Health Organization (WHO) director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus gives a press conference on the situation regarding COVID-19 at Geneva's WHO headquarters on Feb. 24. Fears of a coronavirus pandemic deepened on Feb. 24 as new deaths and infections in Europe, the Middle East and Asia triggered more drastic efforts to stop people traveling. (AFP/Fabrice Coffrini)

The World Health Organization (WHO) urged President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo to scale up the country’s emergency response mechanisms in containing the COVID-19 outbreak by, among other measures, declaring a national state of emergency.

In a letter sent to the President on Tuesday, WHO director general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said the agency had "seen undetected or under-detected cases at the early stages of the outbreak [which] result in significant increases in cases and deaths in some countries.”

The agency then recommended several actions to be taken to reduce transmission and prevent further spread of the coronavirus, including “scale up emergency response mechanisms including a declaration of national emergency.”

Tedros went on to say that the country should intensify case finding, contact tracing, monitoring, quarantine of contacts and isolation of cases.

“I would also be grateful if the Republic of Indonesia could provide the WHO with detailed information about the approach to surveillance and testing, contact identification and contact tracing for COVID-19 and any data or summaries,” Tedros wrote in the letter.

“I am counting on your personal leadership and political will, which not only reflects strong partnership with WHO, but also demonstrates the Republic of Indonesia’s commitment to global health security.”

Read also: COVID-19 'can be characterized as a pandemic': WHO chief

Tedros went the extra mile by calling President Jokowi directly, as he wrote in his official Twitter account, @DrTedros, on Friday.

“I thanked him for the government's leadership on containment and preparing the health system and other sectors to respond to COVID-19. We agreed to scale up cooperation and I assured him of the WHO’s readiness to support,” Tedros wrote on Twitter.

Presidential spokesperson Fadjroel Rachman confirmed that the phone call took place on Friday, after the President received the WHO’s letter. He went on to say that the government had taken several measures recommended by the United Nations health agency.

“The government has increased its efforts in handling COVID-19 by issuing a presidential decree that mandates the formation of a COVID-19 accelerated handling task force, as well as the Health Minister’s decree on protocols for central government and regional administrations,” Fadjroel said in a statement.

As of Saturday noon, Indonesia had 69 confirmed COVID-19 patients, as the death toll from the disease climbed to four.

The government’s spokesperson for all coronavirus-related matters, Achmad Yurianto, said the government would expand the COVID-19 testing range by allowing laboratories in universities and other research agencies to perform polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing on suspected patients.

Read also: 'Smokers in Indonesia are at high risk for COVID-19': WHO

A number of nations have declared a national state of emergency following the outbreak, such as Spain and United States. President Donald Trump declared a US national emergency over the quickly spreading coronavirus, opening the door to more government aid to combat the disease, as reported by Reuters.

According to global data compiled by Johns Hopkins University’s Center of Systems Science and Engineering, around 145,000 cases have been confirmed worldwide, around 5,400 of which died due to COVID-19. Meanwhile, 71,694 people recovered from the disease. (mfp)


If you want to help in the fight against COVID-19, we have compiled an up-to-date list of community initiatives designed to aid medical workers and low-income people in this article. Link: [UPDATED] Anti-COVID-19 initiatives: Helping Indonesia fight the outbreak