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Jakarta Post

‘We need to be cautious’: Jokowi defends red tape surrounding COVID-19 policies

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, April 9, 2020   /   09:19 pm
‘We need to be cautious’: Jokowi defends red tape surrounding COVID-19 policies President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo adjusts his face mask while visiting the 2018 Asian Games athletes village, which has been converted into a hospital for COVID-19 coronavirus patients, in Jakarta on March 23. (AFP/POOL/Hafidz Mubarak A )

President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has defended the complicated bureaucratic process surrounding the government’s COVID-19 mitigation policies, saying that he wanted to err on the side of caution.

"I think in this situation we must not make any wrong decision. We need to be cautious and we should not be reckless," Jokowi said in a press conference on Thursday.

His statement comes after Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan strongly criticized the Health Ministry’s new guidelines on large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) as showing “no sense of urgency”.

According to a ministerial regulation issued by the Health Ministry on Friday, regional heads who want to enact PSBB have to attach an epidemiology study to their requests, as well as data and maps showing the spread of the virus in their respective regions.

The request would then be discussed by an expert team appointed by the health minister, which would approve or deny the request in consultation with COVID-19 rapid response team chief Doni Monardo. The Health Ministry must make a decision within two days after the submission of the request, the regulation says.

Jokowi said that the government wanted to assess the conditions in each region before granting permission to impose PSBB.

"The decision to impose PSBB lies in the hands of the health minister and we need to consider several factors before deciding whether or not we should grant a request for PSBB in a certain region as it would include school and office closures, as well as restrictions on religious and public activities," he said.

Jokowi explained that the government needed to see the number of COVID-19 cases in the region, the death rate, and other epidemiologic considerations such as threats, resources, socio-economic factors, and security.

"Once again [I want to emphasize] that we don't want to be reckless,” he said. “I think it's better to decide with [a lot of] considerations, clarity and deep and detailed calculations.”

Jakarta, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country, is set to be the first region to officially impose PSBB on Friday after obtaining approval from the health minister on Tuesday. (nal)