Indonesia launches mosque disinfection campaign

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

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.


Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks

Updated 26 min 28 sec ago

Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks

Afghan government, Taliban announce breakthrough deal to press on with peace talks
  • The agreement lays out the way forward for further discussion
  • Taliban insurgents have refused to agree to a cease-fire during the preliminary stages of talks

KABUL: Afghan government and Taliban representatives said on Wednesday they had reached a preliminary deal to press on with peace talks, their first written agreement in 19 years of war.
The agreement lays out the way forward for further discussion but is considered a breakthrough because it will allow negotiators to move on to more substantive issues, including talks on a cease-fire.
“The procedure including its preamble of the negotiation has been finalized and from now on, the negotiation will begin on the agenda,” Nader Nadery, a member of the Afghan government’s negotiating team, told Reuters.
The Taliban spokesman confirmed the same on Twitter.
The agreement comes after months of discussions in Doha, the capital of Qatar, in negotiations encouraged by the United States. In Afghanistan, the two sides are still at war, with Taliban attacks on government forces continuing unabated.
Taliban insurgents have refused to agree to a cease-fire during the preliminary stages of talks, despite calls from Western capitals and global bodies, saying that that would be taken up only when the way forward for talks was agreed upon.
UN envoy for Afghanistan Deborah Lyons welcomed the “positive development” on Twitter, adding that “this breakthrough should be a springboard to reach the peace wanted by all Afghans.”
Last month, an agreement reached between Taliban and government negotiators was held up at the last minute after the insurgents balked at the document’s preamble because it mentioned the Afghan government by name.
The Taliban refused to refer to the Afghan negotiating team as representatives of the Afghan government, as they contest the legitimacy of the administration led by President Ashraf Ghani.