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Jakarta Post

Task force traces 17 clusters to religious events, urges public vigilance

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, November 26, 2020   /   04:51 pm
Task force traces 17 clusters to religious events, urges public vigilance Thousands of people crowd the Gadog intersection on Nov. 13 in Puncak, Bogor regency, West Java, to celebrate the repatriation of Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab. Jakarta has traced at least 85 new cases to mass gatherings held to mark Rizieq's return to Indonesia on Nov. 10. (Antara/Arif Firmansyah)

The national COVID-19 task force has traced nearly 240 confirmed cases to 17 clusters that emerged in May-November from large public gatherings at religious events and places of worship in Jakarta.

“There are 17 clusters that emerged from religious events and places of worship clusters with 236 [confirmed] cases in total,” said the taskforce’s data and information technology head, Dewi Nur Aisyah, as quoted by on Wednesday.

Dewi therefore stressed the need to observe the COVID-19 health protocols of mask wearing, hand washing with soap and physical distancing at all times, especially at public facilities and events.

She added that cluster infections typically emerged during large religious events like takziah (comforting the bereaved in Islam) and tahlilan (communal prayer), and noted that the emergence of clusters was more common during takziah than during tahlilan.

“As of now, we have detected five clusters from takziah events in Jakarta, and only two [clusters] from tahlilan events. The total number of cases is 69,” said Dewi.

She also reminded the public to remain alert when attending funerals, even funerals for people who had died of other causes unrelated to COVID-19, but to keep in mind that 60 percent to 80 percent of people infected with the coronavirus were asymptomatic or showed only mild symptoms.

Jakarta has recorded at least 85 new cases linked to the series of public gatherings held on Nov. 10 to mark the repatriation of Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shibab.

Read also: Rizieq Shihab slapped with Rp 50 million fine for breaking physical distancing rule

The task force last week received data showing that seven out of 15 people who took swab tests in Petamburan, Central Jakarta, had tested positive for the disease, while 20 out of 559 people who attended a gathering in Megamendung district, Bogor regency, West Java, returned positive results for antigen swab tests.

A separate report revealed that 50 people had also contracted the disease in Tebet, South Jakarta.

Task force chief Doni Monardo called on community unit (RT) and neighborhood unit (RW) heads to cooperate with the health authorities and to urge residents to self-report if they had taken part in any activities related to Rizieq’s return to the country.

“[If you participated in the parades] please report to the head of [your] RT or RW and get yourself tested at a puskesmas [community health center],” said Doni.

Amid the recent surge of new COVID-19 cases and following several mass gatherings that led to allegations of widespread health protocol violations, the Jakarta administration announced on Sunday that it would extend the transitional large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) for another two weeks until Dec. 6.

"The Jakarta administration can pull the ‘emergency brake’ if [the city] sees a significant increase in new cases or a worrying transmission rate,” Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said on Sunday. “On Saturday, the capital city recorded its highest single-day spike of 1,579 cases."

Anies added that a report from the University of Indonesia's Public Health Faculty (FKM UI) found that the rate of public compliance with the COVID-19 health protocols had decreased significantly since the end of October.

Hundreds of thousands of Jakartans traveled during the government-declared cuti bersama (collective leave) from Oct. 28 to Nov. 1 to mark the Prophet Muhammad’s birthday, which critics and health experts alike warned would result in a new surge two weeks after the holiday. (dpk)

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.