05/19/2020, 15.35
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Indonesian medics complain of too many people in markets, shops and terminals

by Mathias Hariyadi

The presence of thousands of passengers at an airport sparked a protest. Social distancing is being disregarded. The lack of discipline among Indonesians is causing more infections. Fears surround Eid al-Fitr. There are doubts about the actual numbers of cases.


Jakarta (AsiaNews) – Doctors and nurses have protested against the failure by ordinary Indonesians to respect social distancing during the coronavirus pandemic, finding a wide echo on the Internet.

The issue became front-page news last week when thousands of passengers could be seen crowding the Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in Cengkareng (West Jakarta). Similarly, in many places people began crowding streets, stores and markets.

For over two months, medical personnel have been on the front lines against COVID-19, risking and often sacrificing their family life. Recently, some doctors and nurses have appeared in videos posted on social media explaining that most of the infections are due to non-compliance with anti-virus protocols, in particular keeping a safe distance.

This view is shared by those Indonesians, mostly middle class, who are conscious of the gravity of the situation, such as academics and business people. For many the rallying cry is “Indonesia: It’s up to you”. The aim is to get Indonesians to respect large-scale social restrictions (Pembatasan Sosial Skala Besar) imposed to counter the spread of the pandemic.

The authorities fear that the relatively low infection rate will encourage Indonesians to disregard the lockdown, thus risking a new wave of infections.

The peak of the current wave could come as soon as this week-end (23-23 May), when Muslims celebrate the Eid al-Fitr to mark the end of Ramadan, Islam’s sacred month of fasting and prayer.

So far, more than 18,000 cases of COVID-19 have been reported in the country, with about 4,500 hospitalisations and 1,221 deaths. However, for several observers, the number of cases is much higher since some of the provinces most affected by the disease – West Java, Bali and South Sumatra – have not provided complete figures.

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