North Sumatra readies Rp500-billion for 2nd-phase handling of COVID-19

North Sumatra readies Rp500-billion for 2nd-phase handling of COVID-19

A mass rapid test was recently conducted for employees of Medan's traditional market operator, PD Pasar Medan. (ANTARA/Nur Aprilliana Br Sitorus)

Medan, N Sumatra (ANTARA) - The North Sumatra provincial government readied allocation of Rp500 billion for second phase of handling the impacts of the ongoing novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic this month, a local government spokesman noted here, Thursday.

"In July, the North Sumatra provincial government had entered the second phase of the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. We have prepared a budget whose amount is similar to that allotted in the first phase," spokesman of the North Sumatra COVID-19 Task Force Major Whiko Irwan remarked.

The funds will be utilized for financing programs linked to public health, social safety net for those suffering from the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, and stimulus packages to facilitate economic recovery, he stated.

The provincial government had taken a cue and learnt extensively from the first phase of handling the pandemic in which the restrictions on economic, transportation, educational, and socio-cultural activities failed to end the COVID-19 outbreak, he pointed out.

On the contrary, amid the restrictions, the community members and government were direly impacted since the people still had to fend for their sustenance and the economy, industries, transportation services, and education for children too had to keep running, he stated.

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Right since the early phase of the COVID-19 outbreak, which initially struck the Chinese city of Wuhan at the end of 2019, and since then spread all across the globe, the tourism industry is the first and deeply affected business sector in North Sumatra.

The government has pledged to help over 17 thousand tourism workers in North Sumatra currently reeling from the socio-economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to North Sumatra Province's Tourism Office Head, Ria Novida Telaumbanua.

"The central and provincial governments have been striving to assist business players in the tourism sector and their workers severely hit by the COVID-19 outbreak," she had remarked earlier.

To lend assistance, the Ministry of Tourism and Creative Economy Agency provided 16,100 packages of basic necessities and ready-to-eat food items for the affected tourism workers in North Sumatra, Telaumbanua noted.

The COVID-19 pandemic, undeniably a huge crisis in human history, has destabilized the global economy, partially due to travel restrictions, shutdown of business entities, disruption of supply chains, and border closures.

President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) admitted recently to have been apprised of the global economic crisis being a real challenge, and several nations were bearing the brunt of the ongoing global pandemic.

"We must be aware of the fact that while we are handling public health issues, we are still reeling from the other problem, that is, the economy," President Jokowi noted while stressing on the importance of striking a balance while handling the brake and accelerator pedals in tackling the public health and economic crises.

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