As reports of a two-week state of emergency in the Indonesian capital commenced from March 20 due to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus which is doing rounds on the internet in Indonesia, its capital Jakarta decided to follow the same path and has shut down cinemas and other public entertainment on Monday to slow the accelerating spread of the coronavirus in Southeast Asia’s biggest city.
The new measures, which include urging people to work from home, still fall short of the tougher lockdowns imposed by neighbors amid concerns among some experts that the archipelago of 260 million people is not doing enough to contain the virus. National police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said 465,000 police across Indonesia would disperse any public gatherings for the sake of the security of the public through a photograph posted on social media of a packed commuter train in Jakarta quickly went viral.
President Joko Widodo on Monday offered his condolences after a medical association said six doctors and nurses had died after contracting the virus. Speaking at the opening of an emergency hospital, Widodo extended his heartfelt gratitude towards all the doctors and medical staff for their hard work and dedication in dealing with COVID-19. Indonesia till now has confirmed 514 cases of the virus and 48 deaths, mainly concentrated in Jakarta, whose governor on Friday admitted medical staff was already getting over-stretched. Widodo said doctors and other medical staff would receive bonuses ranging from 5 million rupiah to 15 million rupiah ($300-$900) per month in regions that have declared an emergency. Aside from Jakarta, the East Java region has also declared an emergency.
The President has so far resisted calls for tougher lockdowns due to concerns about the impact on businesses and the poor, many of whom are vendors plying their trade on the streets. The normally traffic-clogged streets of the city of 10 million were far quieter than usual on Monday and student volunteers at a crossing on a major road holding up signs urging people to avoid crowds and stay home. But Rocky Margiano Simanjuntak, 23, posted a photograph on social media from inside a packed early morning train on his way to work in the city at a bank.