09/23/2020, 17.15
INDONESIA
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As COVID-19 cases rise, more and more officials get sick

by Mathias Hariyadi

Indonesia is the tenth Asian country in terms of cases, 252,923 with 9,837 deaths. In Jakarta, the local administration has imposed stricter social distancing rules. Governor Anies Baswedan has been criticised for his inconsistency since he allowed public funerals of government officials in Greater Jakarta. Radical Islamic groups have been forced to go online to hold prayer meetings and gatherings.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – According to today's data from the John Hopkins University, 252,923 people have contracted the coronavirus in Indonesia with 9,837 deaths, making it the tenth Asian country for number of cases.

The large number of asymptomatic patients and the sudden deterioration in the health of some patients are particularly worrying.

A case in point is that of Selain Saefullah, regional secretary of the Special Capital Region of Jakarta, who died on 16 September without showing symptoms until the last moment.

Saefullah is just one of many government officials who have died from the pandemic. The list includes Aptripel Tumimomor, North Morowali Regency Chief in South Sulawesi Province, and Edward Anthony, deputy chief of Way Kanan Regency. Many local mayors and officials have also died.

Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi, a former general, and Bogor University Dean Arif Satria have tested positive to SARS-CoV-2, a coronavirus.

Despite the spread of the viral infection, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan had Saefullah’s remains taken to Jakarta City for a solemn ceremony to honour him. This sparked protests against the flagrant disregard of social distancing rules.

Baswedan is accused of deliberately ignoring the new health protocol, which he imposed on the province on 14 September. The latter covers funerals, and bans any gathering and requires that restaurants and eateries offer only takeaway.

Law brakers can be fined 50 million rupiahs (US$ 3,400) for a first-time offence, which doubles in the case of a second.

However, more and more people are against the measure, as evinced by videos posted online. This is a sign of growing tensions among residents of the capital and people who work in the city.

In light of the situation, Fr Samuel Pangestu, vicar of the Archdiocese of Jakarta, calls for compliance with safety regulations in order to avoid another lockdown of businesses, as well as churches.

The new protocol has forced radical Islamic groups to rethink how they can get together. The movie The Betrayal of the 30 September Movement/Indonesian Communist Party, which was supposed to be seen on movie screens, was viewed on mobile phones.

On 30 September, the Islamic Defender Front (FPI) planned to hold a complete reading of the Qurʼān (khataman) and a supplication to God for blessing and forgiveness, help and guidance (munajat). Jakarta’s governor banned the event because of the potential for communal spreading of the virus.

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