The Jakarta Post
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has again demanded his Cabinet make a greater effort to address the COVID-19 crisis, as he criticized what he called a "lethargic" response to the pandemic.
In a meeting on Monday, Jokowi told his ministers to do more to handle the health crisis, such as by deploying more healthcare personnel to provinces outside Jakarta that still showed high transmission rates or by increasing the supply of urgently needed medical equipment to help the country in battling the virus.
"There must be innovations that can be seen by the people and that have a real impact on controlling the spread of the disease," Jokowi said, "Unless we do something [to change] such a lethargic [response], there will not be significant improvements."
The President specifically called on the Health Ministry to immediately reimburse the cost of COVID-19 treatment in the country's hospitals, as well as paying financial assistance to the families of deceased COVID-19 patients without delay.
“The procedures within the Health Ministry should not be complicated," Jokowi said, “The payment of hospital claims, incentives for medical and laboratory workers should be made immediately. What are we waiting for? The budget has been allocated anyway."
Monday was not the first time that Jokowi lambasted his aides over the country's COVID-19 response.
In a video posted on the Presidential Secretariat’s official YouTube channel on Sunday, Jokowi was seen saying that he was ready to take “extraordinary steps”, including a Cabinet reshuffle for ministers who failed to take the COVID-19 crisis seriously.
In the footage, which was apparently shot during the June 18 Cabinet meeting, the President also lambasted the Health Ministry for being sluggish in paying out the promised financial incentives for health workers on the frontline of the COVID-19 outbreak. He cited how only 1.5 percent of the Rp 75 trillion (US$5.3 billion) state budget prepared for the health sector had been disbursed so far.
In his statement on Monday, Jokowi also spoke out about incidents where people rejected swab and rapid COVID-19 tests, saying this was because authorities suddenly arrived to perform tests without having properly disseminated information about them.
"I think the most important thing is for us to have integrated efforts to control [COVID-19] so that all of us can work effectively without any departmental rivalries between ministries, institutions or regions, as this is unnecessary," he added.
According to the government's official count, Indonesia recorded 55,092 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Monday, with a total death toll reaching 2,805. (trn)