The Jakarta Post
More Indonesians now comply with the policy of wearing face masks in public, Statistics Indonesia (BPS) has revealed, although more efforts to raise public awareness about the need to thoroughly implement health protocols and the risks of contracting COVID-19 are necessary.
An online survey conducted by the BPS from Sept. 7 to 14, involving 90,967 respondents across the archipelago, revealed that the rate of people's adherence to mask-wearing policy is higher than other health protocols, such as hand-washing and physical-distancing policies.
According to the survey results, around 92 percent of respondents wear face masks in public, while 75.38 percent and 73.54 percent regularly wash their hands and maintain a safe physical distance, respectively.
The rate of public compliance with the mask-wearing policy has increased by 8 percent since April, BPS head Suhariyanto said, while noting that compliance with the hand-washing and physical-distancing policies had somewhat declined.
“Ideally, these three parameters – mask-wearing, hand-washing and physical distancing – should be parallel,” he said during a press conference livestreamed on the National Disaster Mitigation Agency’s (BNPB) official YouTube channel on Monday.
“After all, what good does wearing a mask do without regularly washing our hands and keeping a safe physical distance?”
Despite the generally optimistic outlook, a more robust campaign encouraging people to look after their own personal hygiene and avoid crowds would be crucial to ensure public health and safety, he said.
Suhariyanto went on to explain that a sizable proportion of respondents – 17 percent – still believed that it was impossible for them to contract the coronavirus disease.
Respondents aged between 17 and 30 tend to be more skeptical of their susceptibility to the virus than those aged over 60, he added.
“Threat perception is also generally higher among respondents with higher education,” he said, adding that a “special touch” is required to reach out to the less-privileged demographic to raise awareness of the various health risks amid the current crisis.
BNPB head Doni Monardo, who also helms the national COVID-19 task force, said during the same event that he expected the latest BPS survey to inform future decision-making processes in order to ensure maximum impact.
“Members of the public are at the forefront [of COVID-19 mitigation],” Doni said.
“Public compliance with health protocols is incomparable to the major sacrifices made by our health workers.”
Indonesia has seen a continuously rising number of cases since March. The country logged record daily highs, all above 4,400 new cases, for three consecutive days last week.
As of Monday, Indonesia had recorded 278,722 coronavirus infections with 10,473 deaths linked to the disease, making it the country with the second-highest number of recorded COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia -- just below the Philippines -- and the highest in fatalities among its ASEAN peers.