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Jakarta Post

COVID-19: Participants of South Sulawesi religious mass gathering put in isolation

  • Andi Hajramurni

    The Jakarta Post

Makassar   /   Fri, March 20, 2020   /   04:40 pm
COVID-19: Participants of South Sulawesi religious mass gathering put in isolation South Sulawesi Governor Nurdin Abdullah (second left) visits participants of a mass Islamic gathering in Gowa, South Sulawesi on March 19. The South Sulawesi provincial administration has cancelled an international Islamic event over heightened concerns about COVID-19, but not before thousands of participants had already arrived at the site. (Antara/Abriawan Abhe)

South Sulawesi health authorities put the participants of a suspended international Islamic event in Pakkato village, Bontomaranmu district, Gowa regency into isolation wards in several locations on Thursday.

A total of 8,223 people were sent from the gathering venue in waves. Based on The Jakarta Post’s observation, authorities transported 474 foreign nationals from several countries by using bus escorted by police and military personnel.

The foreigners came from at least 12 countries, including Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei Darussalam, Saudi Arabia, India, the Netherlands, Thailand and the Philippines. They were placed in hotels owned by the provincial administration in Makassar.

After the foreigners, authorities transported Indonesians from outside South Sulawesi to a haj dormitory in the provincial capital of Makassar. Then police and military personnel escorted congregation members from the province, who were immediately sent to their respective homes.

Meanwhile, people from outside South Sulawesi were allowed to stay in the city and leave the province according to their trip schedules. They are to depart from Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport and the Soekarno-Hatta seaport in Makassar.

Read also: How a 16,000-strong religious gathering led Malaysia to lockdown

South Sulawesi Governor Nurdin Abdullah said the administration had provided facilities in the haj dormitory, including a large tent, a public kitchen and toilets.

“We’re in critical condition as the coronavirus has been spreading rapidly; therefore, we have to cancel the mass gathering to prevent the disease from spreading,” he said.

The event committee's chairman, Kahar, accepted the decision, saying that participants were about to leave the venue before the event ended.

“We managed to hold the main event of praying together for our safety,” Kahar explained.

Read also: Massive Bangladesh coronavirus prayer gathering sparks outcry

Separately, Makassar Immigration Office head Andi Pallawarukka said the 474 foreigners at the gathering had entered Indonesia legally.

"They also underwent medical examinations at the airports [...] and were declared healthy," he said.

Andi added that some of the foreign nationals had been in Indonesia for several months before the COVID-19 outbreak. Some arrived in Indonesia through Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten and proceeded to Makassar using domestic flights. (aly)