Indonesia launches mosque disinfection campaign

A sanitation team disinfects Al-Munawwarah Mosque in Jakarta.
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Updated 16 March 2020

Indonesia launches mosque disinfection campaign

  • A number of regional governments in the country have taken measures by canceling public events, and temporarily closing schools, tourist destinations, and entertainment centers

Indonesia has kick-started a campaign to disinfect thousands of houses of worship in order to contain the spread of the new coronavirus. The number of recorded infections has reached 117, with 21 new COVID-19 cases reported on Sunday alone.
Transportation Minister Budi Karya Sumadi is the first high-ranking Indonesian official known to have contracted the virus.
Sumadi attended a Cabinet meeting on Wednesday in Jakarta, where he met with Dutch Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management Cora van Nieuwenhuize.
President Joko Widodo said he would test for the virus on Sunday.
Widodo went on Friday to the Istiqlal Mosque in Central Jakarta to oversee the disinfection of Southeast Asia’s largest mosque. Chairman of the Indonesian Mosque Council and former Vice President Jusuf Kalla launched the sanitization initiative at the Al-Munawwarah Mosque in South Jakarta.
“The virus spreads in places where there are large concentrations of people, and one such place is the mosque,” Kalla said.
The council has partnered with a number of cleaning service providers that will deploy teams to disinfect mosques in the greater Jakarta area.
“Our target is to clean 10,000 mosques in Jakarta and its suburbs, and we want to increase our team members so that we can eventually clean up to 200 mosques each day. We need at least 30 minutes to perform the disinfection process, depending on the size of the mosque. We have conducted trials for this procedure earlier this month at two mosques,” Zainal Arifin, director of the disinfectant service company Turacon Wirasta, told Arab News.
Ahmad Tsauban, head of the Al-Munawwar Mosque management, told Arab News that the mosque has begun more frequently cleaning its interior.
Religious Affairs Minister Fachrul Razi said the ministry has instructed mosques across the country to also begin disinfecting more regularly, to provide antiseptic hand soaps, and to make sure that the water taps are working well so that congregation members may properly perform ablutions.
A number of regional governments in the country have taken measures by canceling public events, and temporarily closing schools, tourist destinations, and entertainment centers. Government and private offices in Jakarta are adjusting their working hours, providing employees opportunities to work from home, and alternating turns for employees coming to the office.
Jakarta Gov. Anies Baswedan urged residents on Sunday to exercise social distancing and to self-quarantine at home as the coronavirus has spread across the city.
The governor did not rule out the possibility of placing the city under lockdown but would first consult with the National Disaster Mitigation Agency, which is leading Indonesia’s coronavirus response.
“It is our view that Jakarta should halt activities in the city and that people should stop coming into and leaving the city. Jakarta must act fast, as cases continue to rise,” Baswedan said.


Philippines cracks down on clandestine COVID-19 clinics

Updated 4 min 44 sec ago

Philippines cracks down on clandestine COVID-19 clinics

  • Intelligence, immigration officials investigating illegal facilities that catered mostly to foreigners

MANILA: The Philippines has intensified its crackdown on uncertified medical facilities offering treatment to people, particularly foreigners, with COVID-19 symptoms.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to help the Philippine National Police (PNP) track down foreign nationals behind the illegal clinics.
“It seems that clandestine medical clinics catering mostly to foreign nationals have sprouted and have been operating without proper authority,” Guevarra told reporters.
He said the facilities could have compromised the health of those who had undergone treatment.
“I’ll therefore ask the NBI and the BI to help the police in locating other similar underground clinics and the people running them, and if warranted, to file the appropriate charges against them,” he added.
Guevarra issued the order following a raid on Tuesday on an illegal clinic catering to Chinese patients in Makati City. Arrested in the operation were Chinese nationals Dr. David Lai, 49, and Liao Bruce, 41.
The clinic was reportedly operating without a permit, while the arrested did not have a license to practice medicine in the country.
Seized from the site were swab sticks, vials, syringes and boxes of medicine with Chinese labels — believed to be unregistered with the Food and Drug Administration.
Last week, law enforcers also swooped on a makeshift hospital for Chinese patients in the Fontana Leisure Park in Clark, Pampanga province.
The raid came after police received information that a COVID-19 patient was “undergoing medical attention” in a Fontana villa.
Arrested during the raid were Chinese nationals Liu Wei, who reportedly supervised the facility, and Hu Shiling, allegedly a pharmacist. Both were released on the same day without charge.
Immigration officials on Thursday said the duo had been placed on their watch list to prevent them from leaving the country while an investigation is underway.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said intelligence operatives will trace four of the patients, and are looking into the case of the Chinese nationals arrested in Makati.
“I’ve instructed our intelligence division to investigate if these alleged Chinese doctors are legally staying in the country,” he said.
“Should we find they violated our immigration laws, they’ll be charged with deportation cases before our law and investigation division,” he added.
“Even if no criminal charges were filed against them, they can be charged for immigration law violations if we can establish that they violated the conditions of their stay in the country.”
If criminal charges are filed, however, the BI will only deport them after their cases have been resolved or they have served their sentences, if convicted.
Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros called for the “immediate deportation and blacklisting” of the Chinese nationals because of their “blatant disregard of our laws.”
She added that while the Philippines is working hard to protect its people from the virus, “these criminals freely roam and pose a danger to public health.”