This joint team for handling the bodies of those dying of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is formed in response to the high COVID-19 mortality rate in Riau
Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) - Riau Police is working with the Indonesian Forensic Doctors Association (PDFI) and University of Riau's Faculty of Medicine Student Executive Board to handle bodies of deceased people testing positive for or suspected of contracting COVID-19.

"This joint team for handling the bodies of those dying of the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is formed in response to the high COVID-19 mortality rate in Riau," Head of the Riau Police Headquarters' Medical Doctors Sen. Coms. Adang Azhar stated here on Wednesday.

Members of the joint team are eager to ensure security and end the negative stigma of certain community members toward deceased COVID-19 patients, Azhar noted.

The team members also assist hospitals facing a shortage of personnel in handling the corpses of deceased COVID-19 patients, he remarked, adding that the negative stigma toward coronavirus patients and their families, as well as paramedics exists chiefly owing to the poor knowledge of COVID-19 among several community members.

Azhar revealed that the team had begun operating a call center, reachable through cellular phone number: 0812-68192002, for the people of Riau Province.

ANTARA reported of refusals to bury bodies of several deceased COVID-19 patients at various places in Indonesia. The government and Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) are alarmed by this stark reality.

To this end, MUI Secretary General Anwar Abbas highlighted the need for experts and the government to furnish comprehensive information to the public on procedures to handle bodies of COVID-19 patients.

Taking into account the fact that COVID-19, which initially struck the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019, spread to all 34 provinces of Indonesia, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) had declared the coronavirus outbreak a national disaster on April 13.

President Jokowi accorded national disaster status to the ongoing pandemic in a letter number 12/2020, dated April 13, 2020, which highlights several points encompassing the appointment of head of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Doni Monardo to lead the COVID-19 task force.

The Task Force for the Accelerated Handling of COVID-19 will focus on mitigating the impact of the pandemic through coordinated efforts with the concerned ministries, government agencies, and regional administrations.

The letter has also named governors, district heads, and city mayors as the heads of the COVID-19 task forces in their respective regions. While formulating regional policies, they will be required to refer to the policies formulated by the central government.

The national disaster status implies that in the phase of emergency response, the BNPB will utilize the budget allocated by the government to it.

As of Wednesday, Indonesia had reported 5,136 confirmed COVID-19 cases. While the death toll from the contagion has reached 469, a total of 446 patients have completely recovered from the infection and have been discharged from hospital.
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Translator: FB Anggoro, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
Copyright © ANTARA 2020