The Jakarta Post
The House of Representatives has called on the government’s COVID-19 rapid response team to work faster, saying that the team’s effort to accelerate the pandemic handling was not yet apparent.
House Speaker Puan Maharani said on Thursday that President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo’s administration should take further and faster steps as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases continued to grow.
As of Thursday, the government has confirmed 309 COVID-19 positive cases. At least 25 have died from the disease, while 15 have recovered.
"The government must provide a massive number of test kits and deploy medical workers to public health service points," said Puan, who once served as coordinating human development and culture minister.
Reports had surfaced about suspected COVID-19 patients having to wait for a long time to get tested for the disease, as referral hospitals faced increasing strains. Only 12 laboratories are permitted to administer tests, as stipulated in a recently issued health ministerial decree.
Health authorities are mulling a plan to provide rapid COVID-19 tests across the country. However, it is still unclear on when the rapid test kits will be available.
Unlike swab tests that require throat and nasal samples, rapid tests only check blood serum; allowing the test to be done at all health laboratories. Once the rapid tests are available, anyone in the country can undergo the test regardless of whether they exhibit COVID-19 symptoms.
The ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician also called on the government to provide free masks and hand sanitizer, prepare sterilization booths in public places and provide more information on areas with confirmed COVID-19 cases and available health services.
Apart from handling the pandemic, the government should immediately set an affirmative policy to mitigate its impact on the economy, especially the poor, Puan went on to say.
NasDem Party lawmaker Willy Aditya suggested the government take extraordinary steps and raise public awareness on the pandemic, as many people were still unaware its dangers.
"That’s why there are still many people holding events, including religious gatherings, despite government advice,” the member of House Commission I overseeing defense said.
He referred to an ordination Mass for the new bishop of Ruteng in Manggarai regency, East Nusa Tenggara, which was held and attended by hundreds of people on Thursday despite authorities’ requests to cancel it.
Willy demanded the government work with community and religious leaders to raise awareness among the public.
"Mobilize the government network and build cooperation. Raise public awareness that this is not about being brave or afraid of the virus, but about loving others, especially the elderly and other vulnerable groups.”
Herman Hery, chairman of House Commission III overseeing legal affairs, demanded the National Police to evaluate all permits for mass gatherings.
"I appreciate Doni Monardo [rapid-response team leader] who has been proactive in overseeing public activities that have the potential to become a place for the virus transmission. […] The police should further communicate with the people in suspending events involving large crowds,“ the PDI-P politician said.