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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: Civil society groups call on govt to clear up confusion over social distancing

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, March 17, 2020   /   08:50 pm
COVID-19: Civil society groups call on govt to clear up confusion over social distancing Transjakarta passengers line up at the Puribeta bus stop in Tangerang, Banten, on Monday. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

A coalition of civil society organizations has called on the government to better explain its social distancing recommendation to clear up confusion among the public over how to handle the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

In his televised speech on the COVID-19 outbreak on Sunday, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo highlighted the importance of social distancing to slow the spread of the virus.

However, the recommendation has done little to change behavior at certain workplaces that have continued to run as normal.

The Civil Society Coalition, which consists of several civil society groups such as the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Lokataru, the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) and Amnesty International Indonesia, wrote in a statement that social distancing was not regulated under the legal system.

“Today, social distancing is a mere suggestion to individuals and not adhered to by companies and other workplaces, making the recommendation ineffective," the group said in a statement on Tuesday.

The large number of Transjakarta and MRT passengers on Monday was an example of how the call for social distancing was largely left unheeded, with many residents using public transportation to commute to work. Many companies have required their employees to work from the office.

Read also: IYSF scientist praises social distancing policy, urges govt to cancel ‘mudik'

The coalition said the main message of social distancing was that, “by taking care of ourselves, we protect the health of others”. It said the involvement of the public required effective and crisis-sensitive leadership.

The group also attributed the public’s response to poor coordination between the government and local administrators.

“There is poor communication between the President and the Jakarta governor. In a time of crisis when the people’s safety is at stake, leaders must halt any kind of individual or political competition and focus more on handling the crisis together,” the coalition said, stating that humanity should win over political interests.

Moreover, the social distancing recommendation has not been accompanied by an increase of hospital services. Though the government announced that several hospitals were prepared to deal with a spike in patients, the current situation suggests otherwise.

“A number of reports have revealed how the services of hospitals in Jakarta are poor for residents who intend to get check-ups. This shows that hospitals are not ready to handle patients, especially the common people,” the statement said. (aly)