Two residents of Cilacap, Central Java, have been admitted to the Banyumas Medika Hospital for intensive care after contracting COVID-19 while sheltering from floods.
The two were among hundreds of residents who were evacuated after floods in Cilacap worsened due to overnight downpour from Wednesday evening to Thursday morning.
“According to reports, the two residents are from the same family. The Cilacap COVID-19 task force has traced 15 close contacts,” National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) information and communication data center head Raditya Jati said in a statement on Thursday.
The floods in the regency had begun on Monday and have inundated 2,227 houses and hundreds of hectares of rice fields, impacting 6,029 people.
As of Thursday afternoon, 613 people have taken refuge at four shelters. Floodwaters of 30 to 80 centimeters remain in six villages, namely Mujur, Mujur Lor, Gentasari and Kedawung in Kroya district, Gelompang Pasir in Sampang district and Glempang in Maos district.
Evacuation and other emergency measures are ongoing as local authorities distribute basic goods and set up public kitchens at shelters.
The Meteorology, Climatology and Geophysics Agency (BMKG) has warned of heavy rains and strong winds in Central Java until Friday.
Other parts of the country with the same warning are Aceh, North Sumatra, Riau, Bengkulu, Jambi, South Sumatra, Lampung, Banten, West Java, Yogyakarta, East Java, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, East Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, North Sulawesi, Gorontalo, West Sulawesi, South Sulawesi, North Maluku and Papua.
The BNPB has urged regional administrations and local communities to immediately undertake disaster mitigation efforts for risk reduction while also implementing COVID-19 health protocol during evacuations.
In September, the National COVID-19 task force warned the public about possible infection clusters at shelters for flood victims as the rainy season approaches.
The task force is therefore calling on regional governments to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.
Adherence to health protocols at the shelters, including wearing masks, physical distancing and handwashing, could reduce the risk of transmission, it said.
The task force has also emphasized the importance of maintaining the cleanliness of the shelters and ensuring sufficient air circulation and sunlight to protect the people from common rainy season diseases, such as dengue fever, diarrhea, leprosy, typhus and skin conditions.
The BMKG has warned that the dangers of the rainy season are compounded this year by La Niña, a periodic weather phenomenon that tends to cause extreme weather in the Indonesian archipelago. (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.