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Waging war against an invisible enemy

Waging war against an invisible enemy

Minister of Education and Culture Nadiem Makarim ANTARA FOTO/Rivan Awal Lingga/wsj. (ANTARA FOTO/Rivan Awal Lingga)

Right now our country is in a 'war' condition against an invisible, fast-moving enemy that is threatening human lives. For that reason, I would like to invite all levels of society to help conquer this enemy
Indonesia is currently battling an invisible, fast-moving enemy called the novel coronavirus, which has infected more than 1.1 million people and killed 59,245 people globally, including 181 in Indonesia as of April 4, 2020.

Originating from Wuhan, China in late 2019, the infectious disease has infected a total of 1,119,733 people in at least 180 countries, of whom, 229,338 have been cured, as per April 4 data.

In Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous nation with over 270 million people, there have been 1,986 confirmed cases with 134 patients recovering from the infection so far. The number of cases in Indonesia has been relatively small because so far, very few people have undergone COVID-19 tests due to lack of testing kits, among other things.

The fight against the virus in Indonesia is headed by Health Minister Dr. Terawan Agus Putranto, a major general in the Army.

On March 2, 2020, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) had announced the first two positive coronavirus cases in the country. Ten days later, he had signed a presidential decree appointing Lt. Gen Doni Monardo, also an Army general and head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), as chief of the Task Force for Accelerated COVID-19 Response.

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The task force comprises officials from several ministries and institutions, including the Health Ministry, the Indonesian Intelligence Agency (BIN), and the National Police’s intelligence department, among others.

Doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers are on the frontlines of the ongoing “war”. They have worked all-out for long hours, and sometimes with limited equipment to protect themselves. A month since the beginning of the war against the contagion, at least 18 Indonesian doctors and several nurses have died of coronavirus disease.

Hence, the government and the community have been racing to provide proper gear to doctors and nurses treating coronavirus patients. The Jakarta Government has provided several hotels and facilities to offer rest to the hardworking doctors and nurses.

In the meantime, given the swift spike in infections, the Indonesian Government has declared large-scale social distancing measures nationwide, banned foreigners from entering the country, ordered people to stay at home and work from home (WFH), closed schools and amusement centers, banned gatherings, including mass prayers, and restricted citizens’ movement.

In addition to this, hundreds of hospitals across Indonesia have been assigned to function as referral hospitals for COVID-19 treatment, while several other buildings have been converted into emergency hospitals or quarantine centers.

The government has invited thousands of volunteers, and also urged the Indonesian people to help support the efforts to end the outbreak, which has been declared a pandemic by the World Health Organization.

"Right now our country is in a 'war' condition against an invisible, fast-moving enemy that is threatening human lives. For that reason, I would like to invite all levels of society to help conquer this enemy," Minister of Education and Culture Nadiem Makarim had said during a COVID-19 basic literacy training video conference for student volunteers on March 26, 2020.

The future of the Indonesian nation is in the hands of the people. Hence, the cohesiveness of the Indonesian peoples’ efforts will determine whether the nation wins the fight or not, he had stated.

He had also highlighted the efforts made by the Ministry of Education and Culture in response to COVID-19, including preparation of health facilities as subcenters for COVID-19 testing.

"At present, there are 13 medical facilities and 13 teaching hospitals appointed by the Ministry of Health as COVID-19 test laboratories," he said adding, without systematic tests, it would be difficult to curb the spread of the virus.

The ministry, he had said, has been making arrangements so teaching hospitals under the Ministry of Education and Culture can receive COVID-19 patients.

The ministry has also mobilized health students to volunteer in the "war" against COVID-19, he had noted. The volunteers are participating in efforts for prevention as well as treatment of COVID-19.

The ministry is also making all of the ministry's hostel facilities available for coronavirus response.

Both the Educational Quality Assurance Institute (LPMP) and the Center for Development and Empowerment of Educators and Education Personnel (P4TK) have been prepared to quarantine people under observation (ODP) and patients under investigation (PDP) throughout Indonesia. The bed capacity of P4TK and LPMP is 18,000.

“I, as the Minister of Education and Culture, would like to express my greatest appreciation because, within three days, some 15,000 student volunteers have registered. I am moved," Nadiem had said.

He had also called on educational institutions to spearhead the fight against the invisible enemy in order to save lives quickly.

Meanwhile, in Jakarta, the epicenter of Indonesia’s COVID-19 outbreak, Governor Anies Baswedan has directed all chiefs of neighborhood associations (RT) and community units (RW), as well as family welfare empowerment (PKK) cadres to identify groups vulnerable to coronavirus infection in the city.

The vulnerable groups will be divided into several categories, including for senior citizens aged above 60 years and those suffering from congenital diseases of the heart and lungs, diabetes, and hypertension.

The RT, RW chiefs, and PKK cadres will serve as escorts for senior citizens who live alone. They will also help vulnerable groups carry out indoor tasks and restrict outdoor activities, besides raising awareness about the contagious disease.

Many cases of COVID-19 infections in Jakarta have been detected late due to lack of testing, although the COVID-19 response team has distributed rapid test kits in the capital.

Hence, Anies Baswedan has vowed to expand COVID-19 test coverage and sought the central government’s support for it.

Anticipating a rise in the number of COVID-19 test services through swab tests, the Jakarta government is preparing a bio safety level (BSL) 3 laboratory. 

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