Jakarta imposes partial lockdown as virus cases surge

Indonesia’s government has faced heavy criticism over its handling of the crisis and questions about the true number of deaths. (AP)
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Updated 10 April 2020

Jakarta imposes partial lockdown as virus cases surge

  • Violators face heavy fines and up to a year in jail for breaking the new rules
  • Jakarta city data showed some 776 suspected and confirmed victims had been buried in local cemeteries

JAKARTA: Soldiers and police hit the streets of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta Friday to enforce its toughest social-distancing rules yet as coronavirus infections surge and critics warn of a looming public-health disaster.
Violators face heavy fines and up to a year in jail for breaking the new rules, which include a ban on gatherings of more than five people, limiting restaurants to online delivery orders and reducing public transport.
Motorbike taxis seen everywhere in the megacity of some 30 million were banned from picking up passengers and residents were ordered to stay home.
“I’ve been checking my smartphone all day but no orders so far,” said Embari, a ride-hailing driver who goes by one name.
“I know drivers can’t pick up passengers but I was hoping for some food delivery calls.”
Mosques and other houses of worship were ordered to shut for at least the next two weeks — after millions continued to attend Friday prayers in the Muslim majority nation, despite calls to worship at home.
President Joko Widodo declared a state of emergency last month as coronavirus deaths in the world’s fourth most populous country jumped.
But he resisted calls for a nationwide lockdown fearing a collapse in Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, where tens of millions eke out a living on poorly-paid, informal jobs.
Indonesia’s government has faced heavy criticism over its handling of the crisis and questions about the true number of deaths.
Officially, 280 people have died of the respiratory illness with 3,293 confirmed cases as of Thursday in the archipelago of more than 260 million.
That is the highest death toll for an Asian nation outside China.
But testing rates are among the lowest in the world and there are fears the number of dead could be much higher.
Jakarta city data showed some 776 suspected and confirmed victims had been buried in local cemeteries under COVID-19 protocols requiring bodies to be wrapped in plastic and quickly buried.
That is more than five times the official 142 dead in Jakarta, the epicenter of the outbreak in Indonesia.
Officials have admitted data collection among different jurisdictions is patchy and incomplete.
“The Indonesian government needs to ramp up testing to know the true extent of the coronavirus outbreak in the country,” said Andreas Harsono, senior Indonesia researcher at Human Rights Watch.
“The authorities should also uphold the right to information and provide accurate statistics to the public.”
Indonesia’s spy agency has projected some 95,000 infections by June.
A bleak assessment by the University of Indonesia’s public health department warned that the country could see a death toll of more than 240,000 if testing and quarantines are not ramped up.


World rallies against Floyd’s death

Demonstrators occupy outside the building housing the DC Mayor's Office, during a protest against racial inequality in the aftermath of the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, in Washington, U.S. June 6, 2020. (REUTERS)
Updated 27 min 38 sec ago

World rallies against Floyd’s death

  • Yet tens of thousands of Australians defied Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call to “find a better way”

LONDON: Taking a knee, banging drums and ignoring social distancing measures, outraged protesters from Sydney to London on Saturday kicked off a weekend of global rallies against racism and police brutality.
The death at police hands of George Floyd, an unarmed black man in the US state of Minnesota, has brought tens of thousands out onto the streets during a pandemic that is ebbing in Asia and Europe but still spreading in other parts of the world.
“It is time to burn down institutional racism,” one speaker shouted through a megaphone at a hooting crowd of thousands outside the parliament building in London.
“Silence is violence,” the throng shouted back in the rain.
Officials around the world have been trying to balance understanding at people’s pent-up anger with warnings about the dangers of a disease that has officially claimed nearly 400,000 lives globally.
Yet tens of thousands of Australians defied Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s call to “find a better way.”