The Jakarta Post
With the rainy season approaching as the country deals with the pandemic, COVID-19 task force spokesperson Wiku Adisasmito reminded the public, especially those affected by flooding, of the importance to adhere to health protocols while staying in temporary shelters as they could potentially become infection clusters.
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) predicted the rainy season – which often brings floods – will begin in late October or early November, but several regions have already reported torrential rain during the transition from the dry season to the wet season.
Heavy rainfall caused flooding in several regions, including Jakarta and West Java late in September.
Central Kalimantan and West Kalimantan have declared a 14-day state of emergency in response to massive flooding that inundated dozens of districts in the two provinces and displaced thousands late last month.
Moreover, the BMKG predicted that the country would experience the impact of La Niña until at least February 2021.
La Niña is a meteorological phenomenon where surface water temperatures in the equatorial band of the Pacific Ocean become abnormally low. It is believed to occur every two to seven years and brings heavy rainfall to the Indonesian archipelago, which tends to trigger natural disasters such as floods and landslides.
The La Niña weather phenomenon would also increase rainfall intensity in some parts of the country as it tends to cause extreme weather in the archipelago.
“Regional administrations need to anticipate the impact of flooding on residents staying at shelters, especially considering that it may be difficult to maintain strict health protocols at the shelters,” Wiku said on Tuesday.
The shelters would accommodate many people, therefore they were at high risk of becoming COVID-19 clusters if we do not anticipate the issue early on, he added.
A way of preventing that from happening was adherence to health protocols, including wearing masks, physical distancing and washing hands, Wiku said.
Read also: Double disaster
He also noted the importance of maintaining the cleanliness of the shelters and providing sufficient air circulation and sunlight to protect the people from common rainy season diseases such as dengue fever, diarrhea, leprosy, typhus and skin disease.
Therefore, he urged regional administrations to plan better and map locations and worthiness of the shelters to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Previously, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan had also urged stakeholders to prepare for potentially hazardous flooding.
“We need to be ready because we’re not just facing flooding but also the COVID-19 outbreak. These conditions require special care,” the governor said during an event to prepare for the rainy season in Jakarta late last month.
He said disaster mitigation efforts should adhere to strict health protocols to prevent the spread of COVID-19 during evacuations. “We need to set up more [flood shelter] tents so health protocols and physical distancing can be better applied,” Anies added. (iwa)
Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force (Satgas COVID-19) to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.