The Surabaya administration in East Java is pondering the idea of submitting an official request for large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) with the central government, as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases increase across the city.
The city’s COVID-19 mitigation task force spokesperson, M. Fikser, said the administration was assessing its readiness to impose the policy.
“Relevant agencies are analyzing the impact of the policy. We have to finish the assessment before submitting the request,” Fikser said on Monday.
President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo issued a government regulation on PSBB last week, requiring provinces or cities to obtain a permit from the Health Ministry prior to imposing the policy. Regional heads have to submit the request alongside data on the increase of cases and proof that transmission had occurred in their region.
The request would then be discussed by an expert team appointed by the health minister, who must make a decision within two days after the submission of the request.
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Fikser went on to say that Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini would submit the request with the East Java provincial administration once the assessment was completed.
Risma has vowed to impose stricter measures to contain the outbreak, even without reporting the measures to East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa. Among measures taken were the partial closures of 19 roads connecting the provincial capital city to surrounding areas.
Surabaya has been the city hardest-hit by the disease in the province, as health authorities confirmed 84 COVID-19 cases as of Monday with six fatalities. Surabaya satellite city Sidoarjo has also recorded 18 cases.
Authorities mapped at least six clusters of the disease, including a manasik haji (haj rehearsal) at the Sukolilo haj dormitory in Surabaya organized by the Religious Affairs Ministry from March 9 to 18.
At least 20 confirmed cases have been linked to the event. Three of them died, including Blitar Religious Affairs Agency head M. Solekan.
Surabaya was not the first city to move to impose PSBB in the province. Malang Mayor Sutiaji announced in mid-March his policy to lock the city down, following the confirmation of the city’s first two confirmed COVID-19 cases in February. The policy, however, was immediately annulled and corrected by the mayor himself.
Trenggalek regency has also closed most roads connecting the region, leaving only three national roads open.
Governor Khofifah has been giving the cold shoulder to mayors and regents’ wish to impose stricter measures to contain COVID-19, asserting that the administration “doesn’t use the term lockdown.”
She warned on Sunday regents and mayors to first consult with her before requesting to impose PSBB in their respective regions.
An official with the provincial COVID-19 task force, Joni Wahyuhadi, had repeatedly talked about the province’s wish to reach herd immunity, rather than confining its residents.
“We will continue all these curative measures for those suffering from the disease, while we wait to reach the herd immunity stage,” he told journalists last week.
According to the official tally on Monday, there were 189 confirmed COVID-19 cases across the province with 14 fatalities. Meanwhile, 40 people have also recovered from the disease, according to the health authorities. (kuk)