Only if we are together we can deal with this (coronavirus outbreak)
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia is not alone in its battle against the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, as several nations have offered assistance to the country although they are also facing a similar ordeal.

"Only if we are together we can deal with this (coronavirus outbreak),” President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) said on April 10, 2020 — more than a month after he announced the country’s first two confirmed COVID-19 cases (March 2, 2020).

Indonesia has so far received assistance from at least nine countries for ensuring the smooth supply of medical equipment to accelerate efforts to contain the pandemic.

“Government-to-government assistance is coming from nine countries, namely China, Japan, the US, Singapore, Vietnam, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand, and the United Arab Emirates," Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi told the press via video conference on April 9, 2020.

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In addition, Indonesia has received support from various international organizations and entities, namely the WHO, ADB, IAEA, UNDP, IOM, Global Fund, and UNICEF.

Furthermore, Indonesia has recorded assistance from 42 private and non-governmental organizations from nine countries, namely China, Singapore, Korea, Vietnam, France, Russia, Germany, Japan, and Sweden.

"Most of the assistance comprises masks, rapid test kits, and protective equipment," Retno informed.

Indonesia has said it urgently needs protective equipment, masks, rapid diagnostic kits, dacron swabs, ventilators, RT-PCR kits and reagents, and thermometers.

"These seven medical devices are the most urgently needed by Indonesia and it is the concern of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to facilitate them in the future," said Daniel Tumpal Simanjuntak from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, who is helping coordinate international assistance to deal with COVID-19.

Protective medical gear are, at present, the most needed by Indonesia, which has lost at least 26 doctors and several nurses to COVID-19 while treating infected patients.

The country has been facing shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) for medical workers fighting on the frontlines of the battle against the deadly virus. Hence, the nation has been racing to procure adequate PPE.

In the meantime, the United States has announced support for Indonesia by extending assistance of US$2.3 million (around Rp36 billion).

The donation has been readied through the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the US Embassy in Jakarta announced on April 10, 2020.

Heather Variava, US Chargé d'Affaires in Jakarta, said that the US Government, through USAID, will provide $2.3 million in emergency aid to Indonesia, as part of US efforts to fight the global spread of COVID-19.

The assistance will be channeled to bolster lab capacity, expedite testing, and streamline disease tracking at the community level.

Earlier, Indonesia had received 300 disinfectant sprayers from South Korea.

South Korean Ambassador to Indonesia, Kim Chang Beom, had symbolically handed over the aid to Harmensyah, general secretary of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) and the coordinator of Indonesia’s COVID-19 Response Task Force, on April 8, 2020.

Indonesia and Korea are genuine and like-minded friends, said Ambassador Kim Chang Beom. He reiterated South Korea’s keenness to extend humanitarian aid to Indonesia as a symbol of strategic partnership.

Kim highlighted the South Korean government’s commitment to providing relief worth US$500 thousand to Indonesia.

South Korea plans to provide disinfectant sprays, protective gear, and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits to Indonesia.

"We will soon announce an inter-governmental cooperation package, particularly to assist Indonesia in facing this (state of) health emergency," the Ambassador revealed.

Kim also echoed the keen interest of South Korean companies to help Indonesia contain the COVID-19 outbreak. The companies include LG Group and Korea Midland Power Co, which have announced a plan to provide PCR-based test kits and protective gear to Indonesian medical workers.

In fact, a Garuda Indonesia plane had brought in around 50 thousand COVID-19 test kits from South Korea’s LG Group, on April 5.

"Today, April 5, 2020, the Indonesian Embassy in Seoul, in cooperation with Garuda Indonesia, delivered assistance of 50,000 polymerase chain reaction diagnostic kits from LG Electronics, LG Chem, LG Innotek, and LG International to the Indonesian government," Indonesian Ambassador to South Korea Umar Hadi said recently.

Test kits are crucial for Indonesia as the number of confirmed cases in the country are currently believed to be undercounted due to the lack of diagnostic kits.Last week, the Indonesian Government received 10 thousand COVID-19 test kits and protective equipment from Singapore.

"The assistance reflects the Singapore government's concrete support for Indonesia,” said Indonesian Home Affairs Minister Tito Karnavian.

President Xi Jinping of China, where COVID-19 infections first emerged in late 2019, also spoke to President Jokowi on the phone on April 2 and offered assistance to Indonesia.

The Chinese people navigated the most critical phase only after putting up a tough fight, Xi remarked, adding that China had identified the difficulties faced by Indonesia, and offered assistance in handling them.

On February 11, 2020, when the COVID-19 death toll reached 1,112 in China, Xi had phoned Jokowi to express gratitude to Indonesia for extending medical assistance to China.

The Task Force for the Acceleration of COVID-19 Response on April 10 recorded 3,512 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 306 deaths across 34 provinces in the country. Meanwhile, the number of patients who recovered from the infection stood at 282.

Some people believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg as Indonesia still needs to scale up testing.

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Editor: Mulyo Sunyoto
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