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Jakarta Post

Indonesia's diplomatic corps increase social distancing to curb spread of coronavirus

  • Apriza Pinandita
    Apriza Pinandita

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, March 16, 2020   /   04:08 pm
Indonesia's diplomatic corps increase social distancing to curb spread of coronavirus A man walks past chairs piled up inside the Cafe de Flore in Paris' Saint-Germain-des-Pres district on March 15, after cafes and restaurants were closed amid the spread of novel coronavirus. On March 14, France drastically stepped up its measures against the spread of the coronavirus, announcing the closure of all non-essential public places including restaurants and cafes. (AFP/Philippe LOPEZ)

As the Indonesian government calls on the public to implement social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19, diplomatic corps in Jakarta and abroad are adjusting their workflows, including rearranging consular services for Indonesians overseas.

Shortly after President Joko “Joko” Widodo called on all Indonesians to “work from home, study from home and worship at home” on Sunday, Indonesian embassies across the world announced new measures to limit social contact.

The Indonesian Embassy in Paris, for example, has required all visitors to fill out a form declaring their travel history and their whereabouts and forbids entry to those who have been in virus-stricken areas in the country or abroad within the last 14 days.

“The embassy has postponed or cancelled all activities and events that involve many people until the end of April including religious, promotional and social activities conducted inside the embassy. Embassy staff have been asked to not receive guests unless it is urgent,” said Indonesian Ambassador to France Armanatha Nasir on Sunday.

Although consular services remain available, the embassy has shortened its operational hours to 10.30 a.m. to 15.30 p.m. to maintain social distancing. The embassy has also directed staff members who feel ill to work from home.

As of Saturday, France had recorded more than 4,500 confirmed cases, with 300 patients receiving intensive care. Starting on Sunday, local authorities began to close “non-essential” public spaces such as restaurants, cafes, theatres and night clubs while keeping grocery stores, pharmacies, gas stations, banks and public transportation open.
Meanwhile, the Indonesian Embassy in Singapore has also been rearranging its procedures and emphasizing social distancing to curb the spread of COVID-19.

According to real-time data from Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE), the city-state has recorded the second-highest number of confirmed cases in Southeast Asia, with 226 people infected as of Monday.

On Sunday, the embassy announced it would only provide services for those with urgent matters.

“Only visitors with urgent concerns are allowed [to enter the embassy]. Companions are prohibited,” the embassy said in a statement. “The embassy will implement an online visiting system to reduce direct interactions.”

Similarly, the Indonesian Consulate General in San Francisco, United States, said that it would only provide consular services to those with online appointments.

“Walk-ins will no longer be allowed to enter [the consulate general office],” it wrote in a statement on Monday, adding that non-passport consular services could be accessed through post.

Those who want to enter the office will be tested with a thermal scanner and those who had close contact with persons with COVID-19 or travelers returning from affected international locations with reported community spread are advised against visiting the consulate general.

At least 3,774 people have been infected with the novel coronavirus with 42 deaths in the United States as of Monday.

Back in Jakarta, diplomats working at the Foreign Ministry headquarters have been allowed to work from home starting Monday.

“At least 50 percent of the employees in each department should work from home, except departments related to public services,” said the ministry’s secretary-general, Mayerfas, in a statement on Sunday.

As of Monday afternoon, Indonesia had reported 117 confirmed cases, resulting in five deaths.

In its report on Sunday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that nine new countries had reported cases of COVID-19, bringing the tally of affected countries to 143. At least 5,735 people have died, but more than 77,200 have recovered from the disease worldwide.