Eight Bekasi police who were deployed to handle rallies that broke out after the House of Representatives approved the Job Creation Law on Oct. 5 have tested positive for COVID-19.
Demonstrations against the Job Creation Law has been held several times by students and workers alike, over the past two weeks.
"They are showing some symptoms such as loss of smell and slight fever," said Bekasi Police chief Sr. Comr. Hendra Gunawan, on Saturday as quoted by kompas.com.
Hendra said five of the police personnel took swab tests on Oct. 11 after securing demonstrations against the Job Creation Law from Oct. 5 to 8. Three other officers had swab tests on Oct. 6 and tested positive for COVID-19. Currently, tracing is being carried out to find out whether or not the police personnel contracted COVID-19 at the demonstration site.
“Some protesters might have forgotten to adhere to health protocols, especially when giving speeches or when talking, such as by removing their masks. They probably got infected there,” Hendra said.
Hendra added that his party would conduct massive swab testing and implement stricter monitoring on adherence to health protocols.
"West Cikarang has already done mass swab testing. Serang Baru has also conducted mass swab tests," said Hendra.
The police also appealed to the masses who participated in the demonstrations to adhere to health protocols.
He also said there was a possibility that the police were tired after days of securing demonstrations, which could have weakened their immunity.
Previously, the national COVID-19 task force called on the National Police and the military to test personnel deployed to the Job Creation Law protests because protesters arrested in several regions had had reactive test results.
“We ask the police and the military to carry out COVID-19 tests on personnel who handled the jobs law protests last week,” task force spokesperson Wiku Adisasmito said last week.
Wiku highlighted the importance of rapid testing as a screening method to prevent COVID-19 from spreading further. “If there are reactive results from the tests, we must immediately trace their contacts,” he said.
The task force received 123 reactive test results from protesters arrested in the six provinces so far.
The Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) previously warned of the possibility that new COVID-19 clusters would emerge from demonstrations against the Job Creation Law and noted the difficulty of tracing virus transmission that had resulted from the demonstrations that had taken place in many parts of the country. (iwa)
Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.