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Jakarta Post

Schools could become new clusters of COVID-19 transmission: Indonesian Red Cross

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, July 17, 2020   /   07:26 am
Schools could become new clusters of COVID-19 transmission: Indonesian Red Cross Fresh start: New students of SMA 1 Bogor state senior high school in West Java attend a school-orientation program on their first day at school on Monday. Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, not all new students were physically present as others chose to attend the event virtually. (JP/P.J. Leo)

The Indonesian Red Cross (PMI) has urged regional administrations to set up preventive measures to curb the spread of COVID-19 in schools as students start to return to their classrooms.

"Although school reopening is only allowed in green zone areas, we still need to think about the risks. As long as there are new [COVID-19] cases, there is a risk of transmission," PMI secretary-general Sudirman Said said in a written statement on Thursday as quoted by tempo.co.

On June 16, the Education and Culture Ministry announced the country would allow phased reopening of schools located in COVID-19 low-risk areas, or “green zones”.

Students in several parts of the archipelago returned to school on Monday, after months of studying from home, in accordance with the so-called “new normal” protocols in their respective communities.

National COVID-19 task force chief Doni Monardo also said recently that the government was considering allowing schools in “yellow zones” to reopen because of high public demand.

“We are reviewing several public requests to allow [students] in yellow zones to go back to school,” Doni said after a meeting with President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo on Monday.

Read also: Indonesia starts school year with caution during pandemic

Last week, authorities discovered a new cluster at the Army’s Officer Candidate School (Secapa) in Bandung, West Java. A total of 1,262 new cases were found at the academy, 991 of which were students.

After the findings, West Java recorded the highest spike with 962 new cases on July 9, accounting for most of Indonesia’s latest single day record high of 2,657 new cases.

Sudirman also expressed concern that even though the risks of COVID-19 transmission were increasing, public alertness to COVID-19 had been decreasing.

"We need to improve the public's solidarity to keep each other safe. There's a saying that an outbreak anywhere is an outbreak everywhere. It means that if there are cases in Bandung, Surabaya, Semarang, there are risks of transmission in other places," he said.

Surdirman said the PMI had been actively informing the public about health protocols that could help curb the transmission of COVID-19, but added that reopening schools was inherently risky even with such mitigation efforts.

"Starting from April, PMI volunteers along with the Indonesian Military and the National Police have regularly sprayed disinfectant in public places including schools, Islamic schools and boarding schools. But the best way to minimize [transmission] risk is to avoid crowds," he said. (nal)