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Jakarta Post

KawalCOVID-19 volunteers call for regional quarantines as crisis looms

  • Rizki Fachriansyah
    Rizki Fachriansyah

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sun, March 29, 2020   /   03:31 pm
KawalCOVID-19 volunteers call for regional quarantines as crisis looms Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) officers spray disinfectant in 68 Jakarta state high school on March 16 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. (JP/Dhoni Setiawan)

A group of volunteers affiliated with the KawalCOVID-19 initiative have pushed for an immediate quarantine on areas considered to be “red zones” for viral infection as the number of COVID-19 cases continues to surge across the country.

In a report addressed to President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Saturday, the group warned that 60 to 70 percent of the country’s population could be infected with the disease if the government did not impose strict emergency protocols, such as regional quarantines, over the next few weeks.

“[Regional quarantine] is a movement restriction that entails the confinement of citizens within their homes while receiving assistance from the state. Residents, for instance, are only permitted to go outside to purchase daily necessities in accordance with a strict schedule,” the group wrote in the statement.

The group said the steps the government had taken to stem the spread of COVID-19 throughout the country had thus far proved ineffective.

“[The rate of] social interaction among the public is still high. There have been reports of movement from red zones to yellow or green zones due to the absence of any restrictions,” the group said.

The report also said the government’s efforts to emulate South Korea’s mass rapid testing had been suboptimal as Indonesia still lacked that country’s PCR-based testing capability to aggressively trace and isolate infected individuals.

Such lackluster efforts had led to the daily growth of undetected cases, the group claimed.

“We need a more aggressive policy, namely regional quarantines, to break the chain of infection and buy the authorities some time to find and isolate these undetected cases,” said the group.

The group also expressed skepticism regarding Indonesia’s official number of confirmed COVID-19 cases and fatalities — 1,155 and 102, respectively, as of Saturday — as the group claimed that it did not account for cases that remained undetected.

The real number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, including undetected ones, has likely reached tens of thousands, making it imperative for the government to impose regional quarantines to slow down the spread of the disease, according to the group.  

President Jokowi had previously expressed his reluctance to impose a lockdown due to the considerable financial and social impacts such an initiative would likely have.  

However, scientists and public health experts have urged the government to implement strict rules in order to effectively prevent a nationwide contagion ahead of the Idul Fitri holiday, when many Muslims across the country are expected to travel to their home regions.