Exposure to forest, land fire smoke worsens COVID-19 risk: Monardo

Exposure to forest, land fire smoke worsens COVID-19 risk: Monardo

COVID-19 Handling Acceleration Task Force Chief Doni Monardo. (ANTARA/Muhammad Zulfikar)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - COVID-19 Handling Acceleration Task Force Chief Doni Monardo cautioned that heavy smoke from forest and land fires, especially peatlands, can adversely impact public health and augment the risk of people contracting the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

"Heavy smoke can pose a health threat to the community, particularly those ailing from asthma or ARI (acute respiratory infection). The impact is dangerous for asthma patients when exposed to COVID-19," Monardo noted after a limited meeting at the Merdeka Palace, Jakarta, on Tuesday.

To this end, Monardo remarked that President Joko Widodo had called to take precautionary steps against the occurrence of forest and land fires (karhutla). He stressed the need for closer cooperation between all sections of the community in all regions to mitigate forest and land fires, particularly in fire-prone areas.

"There is a pressing need for hard work and cooperation from all components of the community in all regions that annually experience significant forest and land fires, especially in the peatland areas," he stated.

"We avoid the smoke, so that we can also safeguard ourselves from the dangers of the COVID-19 pandemic," he noted.

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While opening the limited meeting, President Joko Widodo had stated that large sections of Indonesia would experience the dry season in August 2020.

The head of state elaborated that nearly 17 percent of Indonesia's territory had experienced drought in April 2020, while 38 percent of other regions had reeled from it in May 2020, and 27 percent of the other regions in June 2020.

"Drought will occur in most regions in August. We still have a short preparation period of a month from now on," the president remarked.

The president called for efforts to arrange the management of peat ecosystems in a consistent manner. Peatland structuring is conducted by maintaining groundwater levels and constructing canal blocks, ponds, and drilled wells.

"We have already applied other wetting technologies, but it must be consistently done," the president stated.

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