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Jakarta Post

Govt urged to close Papuan ports, airports to prevent COVID-19 spread

  • Benny Mawel and Rizal Harahap

    The Jakarta Post

Jayapura/Pekanbaru   /   Thu, March 19, 2020   /   08:38 pm
Govt urged to close Papuan ports, airports to prevent COVID-19 spread A photo of Sentani Airport in Jayapura, Papua, on September 18, 2018. (Shutterstock/Widhibek)

The Papuan People’s Assembly (MRP) called on provincial administrations to close off entry to Papua in an effort to contain the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“We have agreed to ask the Papua governor to write to President Joko Widodo [Jokowi] to suspend air and sea travel to Papua for 14 days or even a month, in order to protect Papua residents and the indigenous community,” MRP chairman Timotius Murib told The Jakarta Post in Jayapura on Thursday.

The assembly has sent a letter to authorities in Papua, including the governor, regional legislative council, police and the Cenderawasih Military Command (Kodam).

Read also: More than 12,000 flights canceled in two months over virus fears, says Angkasa Pura I

The Papua provincial administration declared a state of emergency on Tuesday, ordering all civil servants to work from home for two weeks.

Timotius, however, criticized the policy. “It won’t help us much if people from regions affected by COVID-19 keep coming to Papua.”

He urged authorities to close all airports and sea ports, or the government would face more problems in the future as Papua was lacking medical staff and health facilities.

“Who guarantees that Papuans will get adequate health services? If the government is not ready to provide that, it’s better to close access to Papua completely,” said Timotius.

As of Thursday, Indonesian authorities had logged 309 cases of COVID-19. Of the total cases, 25 had died.

In Papua alone, 322 people are under general monitoring while five others are under surveillance for COVID-19, Papua Health Agency secretary Silwanus Sumule said.

“The five patients under surveillance show symptoms of fever and cough. We have sent their samples to Jakarta for laboratory testing and are waiting for the results,” said Silwanus.

Read also: COVID-19: Jayawijaya cancels Baliem Valley Cultural Festival as health precaution

Of the five patients, two are being treated in Merauke General Hospital, while the others are being treated in Biak Numfor General Hospital, Jayapura General Hospital and Dian Harapan General Hospital in Jayapura.

In Pekanbaru, Riau, on the island of Sumatra, a 63-year-old man has tested positive for COVID-19. He is currently being treated in Arifin Achmad General Hospital.

“The patient flew back from Malaysia two weeks ago. He was admitted into the hospital on March 13 and was confirmed positive for COVID-19 today,” Riau Health Agency head Mimi Yuliani Nazir said on Wednesday evening.

She said the agency was waiting for laboratory results of nine other potential COVID-19 patients. (aly)

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