The Jakarta Post
Indonesia is not ready to impose a lockdown to limit the spread of the deadly coronavirus as the measure will disrupt the distribution of basic commodities to rural and densely populated areas, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani has said.
The COVID-19 rapid-response team’s primary concern about a potential lockdown is the availability of human resources to deliver logistics into isolation zones, such as in rural and densely populated areas, the minister said.
“The problem lays in the availability of the human resources to deliver basic commodities, not financial resources. How do we deliver the basic commodities to ensure the quarantined population can have access to their basic needs? That’s the primary concern,” She said during an online press conference on Wednesday.
On Monday, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo asserted that imposing a lockdown would be difficult to implement in Indonesia, which consists of 34 provinces, despite calls from experts and scientists to do so.
The President said the important thing for the public was to implement "social distancing" in order to curb the spread of COVID-19, such as staying at least 2 meters from other people and avoiding crowds to minimize the chances of catching COVID-19.
Calls are mounting for President Jokowi to take extreme measures to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus, including implementing a localized quarantine or partial lockdown, despite concerns over executing such a measure.
House of Representatives Speaker Puan Maharani, as well as both government and opposition lawmakers, have demanded the Jokowi administration enforce stricter measures by implementing a localized quarantine as stipulated in the 2018 Health Quarantine Law, saying that many people were ignoring the President’s call to practice social distancing.
The finance minister said there would be sufficient financial resources to combat the COVID-19 pandemic, as the government would reallocate Rp 27 trillion (US$1.8 billion) from the state budget to fund the healthcare system.
The government will reallocate up to Rp 10 trillion from the portion of the state budget that was set for ministries and institutions, as well as Rp 17.2 trillion in funds earmarked for regional administrations, Sri Mulyani said.
“I am working together with the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), the health minister and other ministries to figure out the scenarios for the fight against COVID-19,” she said.
Indonesia has 309 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 25 deaths. Globally, the pneumonia-like illness has infected over 200,000 people and claimed at least 8,000 lives. (mpr)