Jakarta re-imposes partial virus lockdown

A motorcycle taxi driver waits for orders in the business district on Jl. Sudirman (Jakarta, Indonesia) on April 26. (Antara/Dhemas Reviyanto). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

JAKARTA, Sep 15, 2020, AFP. Authorities in the Indonesian capital re-imposed a partial coronavirus lockdown Monday and vowed to strictly isolate anyone testing positive for COVID-19 as infections soared in the metropolis, The ASEAN Post reported.

Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan said the city would resume large-scale social restrictions for two weeks starting Monday, calling it a necessary measure to prevent the health system from collapsing.

Non-essential businesses are only allowed to operate at 25 percent capacity, restaurants can only serve take-aways, and school, parks and tourist spots have been ordered to shut.

Anyone testing positive for COVID-19 – including asymptomatic patients – will have to undergo mandatory quarantine in government facilities, he said.

“If a person who was tested positive refused to be isolated in the designated facility, health workers and law enforcers will pick them up,” Baswedan told a news conference Sunday.

Jakarta first introduced coronavirus restrictions in early April, but began relaxing them in June.

Weeks later, however, the capital has seen a sharp increase in new COVID-19 cases.

Thousands of soldiers and police are being deployed to enforce the restrictions that were often previously flouted.

Still, the regulations might prove hard to enforce.

“I will continue working despite the large-scale restrictions,” said Taufik, who works in a grocery store.

“It’s a good policy, but I need to keep working daily because it is where I earn my income”, he told reporters.

Indonesia is the country hardest-hit in Southeast Asia by coronavirus, with 221,523 infections and 8,841 deaths.

As of Monday, Jakarta has reported more than 55,000 cases with nearly 1,500 deaths.

National COVID-19 task force chief Doni Monardo said 20 out of 67 COVID-19 referral hospitals in Jakarta had reported occupancy rates in their intensive care units at over 60 percent.

Indonesia’s president Joko Widodo has announced that 15 hotels will be used to quarantine COVID-19 patients with mild or no symptoms.

Jakarta administrators have also converted part of an athletes’ village built for international sporting events for asymptomatic patients who need to be quarantined.

“The point is to provide more places for self-isolation so people won’t have to quarantine at home with inadequate health standards,” Monardo said Monday.

In neighbouring Bekasi, the local government has also converted a sports stadium into a quarantine facility for asymptomatic patients.

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