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Jakarta Post

Jakarta not ready to enter ‘new normal’, LaporCOVID-19 survey suggests

  • Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, June 5, 2020   /   09:12 am
Jakarta not ready to enter ‘new normal’, LaporCOVID-19 survey suggests President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo (center) inspects Bundaran HI MRT station in Jakarta on May 26 as the country prepares to enter the so-called "new normal" phase by easing social restrictions amid the pandemic. (Antara/Sigid Kurniawan/POOL)

A survey conducted by LaporCOVID-19 (Report COVID-19) community reveals that Jakarta is not yet ready to enter the so-called “new normal” as the capital is gearing up to ease social restrictions. 

Based on the survey, the group has expressed concern that the new normal policy might instead cause a spike in transmission as there is low risk perception of COVID-19 among Jakarta residents. 

The survey took place between May 29 and June 2 in collaboration with Singapore’s Nanyang Technology University (NTU) Social Resilience Lab. It was aimed at finding how Jakartans perceive the risk of COVID-19 using a risk perception index developed from sociological theories of risk.

On a scale of 1 to 5, where 1 equals critically low, Jakartans scored 3.46 in the risk perception index, meaning they were between “rather low” and “rather high”. 

NTU associate professor Sulfikar Amir said the score should be 4 or higher for the capital to apply the new normal policy.

“Overall, we can say that residents of Jakarta are not yet ready to enter the new normal phase until we reach a score of at least 4,” Sulfikar said during a virtual discussion session on Thursday.

“If the survey reaches the score of 4, it means that residents have become more disciplined and are aware of the risk of COVID-19, which is [suitable to] reduce the transmission rate in the capital,” he added.

Read also: Jakarta discusses ‘new normal’ possibilities for nightclubs, massage parlors

The survey measured several variables to determine the index score, namely knowledge and information about COVID-19, how much the participants are willing to protect themselves from transmission — such as by wearing a protective mask as well as their social and economic condition, in addition to their overall risk perception.

The close-ended survey asked 3,079 participants from almost all subdistricts in the capital city several questions, such as “in your opinion, how likely are you to contract COVID-19?”, “how likely are you to help acquaintances that have contracted COVID-19?”, and “how much has your income decreased due to the pandemic”. 

Respondents were also questioned about their knowledge of the disease, such as its symptoms and methods of transmission.

Sulfikar said Jakartans received a relatively high score in terms of their knowledge and information regarding the disease and how much they are willing to protect themselves. However, they scored lower in economic and social conditions, which affected the overall risk perception scoring.

Sulfikar, for example, said a poor economic condition might result in someone risking their health and safety by going out to work instead of staying at home.

To improve residents’ risk perception, Sulfikar said the Jakarta administration needed to be consistent in educating the public about the pandemic. 

Additionally, LaporCOVID-19 co-founder Irma Hidayana suggested that the administration should be more transparent about COVID-19 data, such as the number of deaths among suspected individuals showing symptoms. Transparency is an important factor as the survey also showed that 66.9 percent of respondents trusted the data provided by government officials.

National Development Planning Minister Suharso Monoarfa previously said that the new normal policy was aimed at keeping the economy running while maintaining restrictions. However, on the other hand, the country faces slumping economic growth and a looming recession. 

Read also: Experts warn of turbulent 'new normal' amid COVID-19 data, testing issues

Irma said the government carried the responsibility of ensuring social and economic welfare of the people during the national health crisis.

“[In a state of health quarantine], social and economic assurance should be provided by the government so that an alarming condition [showed in the survey] that affects public perception does not happen,” she said during the discussion. 

“The [1945] Constitution guarantees social and economic rights, especially during a pandemic like this,” added Irma.

Jakarta, the epicenter of the epidemic in Indonesia, continuously records the highest number of COVID-19 cases in the country. As of Wednesday, the Health Ministry reported 7,623 confirmed cases with 523 fatalities. 

However, Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartanto has suggested that Jakarta is one of the provinces ready to enter the new normal phase despite concerns over the low testing capacity and incomplete data in the country.

The capital applied the first period of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) from April 10 to 23, with several extensions prolonging the period until June 4.

On Thursday, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan decided to extend the period of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) to the end of June as Indonesia’s capital city enters the transition phase with gradual easing plans in place for several sectors.