Ambon, Maluku (ANTARA) - The local government in Ambon, the capital of Maluku Province, on Monday distributed aid packages to around one thousand families affected by the current coronavirus crisis, which has hit several economic sectors hard.

The social safety net program targeted those who have lost their jobs and those whose businesses have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, said Ambon Deputy Mayor Syarif Hadler.

As part of the first phase of relief efforts, one thousand aid packages were distributed to targeted families residing in the neighborhoods of Urimessing, Mangga Dua, Waihaong, Wainitu, and Amantelu.

The Deputy Mayor handed over several aid packages in the Urimessing neighborhood of Nusaniwe Subdistrict.

As part of efforts to contain the spread of the deadly virus, the Ambon city administration also distributed 100,000 free face masks in all nearby villages and neighborhoods in the city.

The central government also plans to transfer aid funds to poor families and workers who have been severely affected by the coronavirus crisis, Syarif Hadler said.

With the coronavirus infections spreading to provinces across Indonesia, charity movements have been launched in various cities and towns in response to calls for mutual cooperation, which President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has earlier echoed to the entire nation.

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In Yogyakarta, aid packages have been distributed to those in need in some areas around the city. However, officials said, this has attracted more beggars, scavengers, and homeless people to Yogyakarta.

Head of the Yogyakarta public order agency (Satpol PP), Agus Winarto, said that while homeless people and beggars could be easily found in the Malioboro neighorhood, they have now spread to several areas, such as Kotabaru and Sudirman.

The novel coronavirus disease initially emerged in the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019. Since then, it has spread to at least 202 countries and territories, including Indonesia, leaving a huge number of people dead in its wake.

On account of COVID-19 infections spreading to all 34 provinces in Indonesia, President Jokowi has declared the coronavirus outbreak a national disaster.

As of Sunday (April 19), Indonesia has recorded 6,575 confirmed COVID-19 cases. While the death toll from the virus had touched 582, as many as 686 patients have been discharged from hospitals post recovery.

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Translator: Penina FM, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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