The Jakarta Post
East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa has decided to extend the large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) in Greater Surabaya for another 14-day period up until May 25, vowing to enforce restriction rules in a repressive approach if necessary.
Greater Surabaya consists of Surabaya and its satellite regencies, namely Sidoarjo and Gresik.
"People's obedience and discipline toward the PSBB rules are the main key factor to the success of PSBB in curbing the COVID-19 spread," she told reporters on Saturday after meeting with Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini, Sidoarjo acting regent Nur Ahmad Saifuddin, and Gresik deputy regent Mohammad Qosim who together agreed to the extension.
Khofifah said her administration would impose strict punishments on those violating health protocols during the pandemic, including wearing face masks and social distancing.
Separately, epidemiologist Windhu Purnomo from Airlangga University's school of public health said on Friday that the implementation of the PSBB in Greater Surabaya had failed to flatten the COVID-19 curve in the said areas as the residents lacked discipline in implementing the health protocols.
"We have seen a fake PSBB in Surabaya. We call it fake because we can hardly see any difference between daily life in Surabaya before and after the PSBB was put into effect," he said.
Windhu, who leads a team of experts tasked with measuring the PSBB effectiveness in flattening the curve, also said recent research showed the SARS-CoV-2 virus infectious period lasted more than 14 days.
"The virus becomes infectious a few days before one shows symptoms up until a few days after the symptoms disappear. Experts have concluded that the virus infectious period is between 21 and 25 days in length," he said, adding that a 14-day PSBB was not enough.
As of Saturday, Surabaya and Sidoarjo saw another jump in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases with 75 and 18 new cases, respectively, bringing the tally to 667 and 170 cases.
On the 12th day of the first period of PSBB, which began on April 28, Greater Surabaya saw an increase in confirmed cases of 72 percent, to 874 from 508, accounting for 62.03 percent of the province’s total of 1,409 confirmed cases.
Surabaya administration secretary Hendro Gunawan said the administration would intensify security patrols in the city to make sure that people adhered to the health protocols.
He said a night curfew would be enforced in a stricter way in the city and physical-distancing rules would be implemented in all markets.
Acting Sidoarjo regent Nur Ahmad Syaifudin said the administration agreed to extend the PSBB as COVID-19 had continued spreading widely in the three areas, especially Surabaya and Sidoarjo, which made them the hardest and second-hardest hit regions in the province.
"We hope that we can curb the virus spread by the end of the extended PSBB so that we will not have to extend it again," he said.
In the meantime, the East Java administration approved on Saturday Greater Malang’s plan to impose PSBB. Greater Malang consists of Malang city, Batu city and Malang regency.
"We have seen the detailed plans of PSBB implementation in Greater Malang. We will shortly send a letter to the Health Ministry to ask for the permit for Greater Malang’s PSBB," Khofifah said.
Based on three indicators ‒ the infection rate, the emergence of local transmission and the fatality rate ‒ measured by epidemiologists, Greater Malang was eligible for PSBB, she said.
"Greater Malang has scored 10 in a 1-to-10 scale measured by a team of epidemiologists," Khofifah said.
With a population of less than 1 million, Malang city, located around 100 kilometers to the south of Surabaya, is one of the first regions in the country to impose PSBB as a response to the emergence of COVID-19 infections in early March.
Malang Mayor Sutiaji even announced a lockdown policy on March 16, which he annulled a day later.
On Saturday, Sutiaji welcomed the agreement among Greater Malang administrations, as well as the governor’s approval to submit a PSBB proposal to the Health Ministry.
"It is our second PSBB proposal, but this time we’re proposing it along with Batu city and Malang regency," Sutiaji said.
As of Saturday, there were 71 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Greater Malang. Twenty-two of which were in Malang city. Malang regency, with a population of around 2.5 million has seen 44 cases.
Batu city, with fewer than 250,000 residents, has seen five confirmed cases.
Batu Mayor Dewanti Rumpoko said the city agreed to impose PSBB together with Malang regency and Malang city given their proximity, despite the city’s small number of cases. (nkn)