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Jakarta Post

Regions close schools, cancel public events because of COVID-19

Regions close schools, cancel public events because of COVID-19 The entrance to the Jakarta Zoo is quiet on Saturday as the recreational facility has been temporarily closed in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. (AFP/Bay Ismoyo)
Ganug Nugroho Adi and Aman Rochman
The Jakarta Post/Jakarta/Surakarta/Malang   ●   Sun, March 15, 2020 2020-03-15 16:54 425 7f440ff09e92db75a02bbad206acc063 1 National #coronavirus,coronavirus,schools,#school,COVID-19 Free

A number of regions in Indonesia have decided to restrict public events, close schools and tourist destinations in response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Many of these steps came even before President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo’s announcement on Sunday, in which he urged people nationwide to keep a distance from each other and work and study at home.

The Jakarta administration announced on Saturday that it would close schools across the city and suspend all exams for two weeks starting Monday. Students in Jakarta will study through long-distance learning.

“A few children have tested positive for COVID-19. They can be carriers [of the virus] and infect adults. Adults taking their children to school can also be infected. Therefore, we need to lower the risk.” Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said during a press briefing at City Hall.

Anies said his administration would follow the example of Singapore and Vietnam, which had limited public gatherings before the virus spread too widely.

Later on Sunday, the governor urged residents to restrict activities outside of their homes, except for very urgent matters, to avoid any public gatherings including religious events and to cancel weddings.

Weddings could be held under strict measures, which included the availability of an isolation room for any sick guests, thermometers to take guests’ temperature, hand sanitizer at the entrance and exit doors and a prohibition of handshakes and other physical interaction, according to Anies.

Jakarta previously decided to temporarily close several entertainment places owned by the administration, including Ancol Dreamland Park, Ragunan Zoo and the National Monument. The weekly Car Free Day event on Jl. Sudirman and Jl. MH Thamrin was also suspended for two weeks.

However, public transportation, public services, community health centers as well as mayoral and gubernatorial offices will remain open.

Indonesia announced 21 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 on Sunday afternoon, bringing the total of recorded people infected with the new disease to 117.

In Surakarta, Central Java, the city administration declared extraordinary occurrence (KLB) status following the death of a COVID-19 patient at Moewardi General Hospital on Wednesday. 

Surakarta Mayor FX Hadi “Rudy” Rudyatmo’s announcement followed a decision by Central Java Governor Ganjar Pranowo to declare the same status across Central Java.

The city has suspended public events like Car Free Day and performances such as the Sriwedari traditional drama and Ketoprak Balekambang for 14 days, starting Saturday.

The Surakarta Health Agency has ordered 62 people who had contact with COVID-19 patients in the city to isolate themselves by staying at home.

The Central Java governor has announced the temporary closure of all schools in the province and ordered schools to resort to online learning methods for 14 days starting Monday.

But 12th-grade students must still sit their exams.

“We still run the exams except in the Greater Solo area,” Ganjar said, referring to Surakarta, Sukoharjo, Wonogiri, Karanganyar, Sragen and Klaten.

Ganjar also instructed restrictions and cancelations of large public gatherings across the province, including Car Free Day, camping and study tours.

In Malang, East Java, the seventh round of the 2020 Indonesian Basketball League (IBL) Pertamax, which was supposed to take place on Friday, was canceled after the Indonesian Basketball Association (Perbasi), the participating basketball clubs and the sponsors agreed to prioritize the safety of athletes and the audience.

The future of the competition would be discussed by the relevant parties in the near future. “The worst-case scenario would be to totally stop the 2020 IBL and determine the winner from the sixth round,” IBL director Junas Miradiarsyah said.

West Java Governor Ridwan Kamil has announced a decision to implement online learning for two weeks, starting Monday. “We have prepared a curriculum for home-learning,” he said.

Throughout the first week at home, these children will study about the COVID-19 disease and how to protect themselves.

“Hopefully, with the COVID-19 instruction, students will spread knowledge about COVID-19 to their parents, neighbors and friends in social media,” Ridwan said.

Universities across the country have also taken precautionary measures against COVID-19.

Gadjah Mada University (UGM) in Yogyakarta, the Bandung Institute for Technology (ITB) in West Java’s Bandung, the University of Indonesia (UI) in Jakarta and the State Institute for Islamic Studies in Surakarta are among universities calling off conventional classes and turning to online learning. Many of them have also curbed events held by students or campuses that involve large crowds and canceled foreign trips.

UI public health expert Hasbullah Thabrany lauded the initiatives taken by local administrations and universities to limit the spread of COVID-19. “We never know who is a carrier of the virus; social distancing is the right thing to do.”

He added that, even though schools and classes were suspended, parents had to make sure the students actually isolate themselves at home and not visit public places during the school break.

“The government also needs to pay more attention to the highly vulnerable group, such as the elderly, smokers as well as medical staff,” he said. (aly)