Jakarta (ANTARA) - Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly laid emphasis on the importance of solidarity among people to surmount over the pressure arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The COVID-19 pandemic is sweeping the entire world and has several impacts on various aspects of life. Many families are grieving the loss of their relatives. Many people lose their jobs, while children, who have to study at home, lose out on the opportunity to hang out with friends," Laoly stated while delivering a speech at the virtual Christmas celebrations of the Filipino business community in Indonesia on Tuesday.

The minister affirmed that such a crisis situation exposes the extent of vulnerability of humans. The high pressure arising from the pandemic has easily encumbered scores of individuals in despair.

"This is why we humans need one another to survive. We must support one another," the PDI-P politician stated.

Laoly believes that the current challenging situation made Christmas celebrations more meaningful for Christians worldwide.

"The power of God's love and presence enables us all to feel loyalty and solidarity between family and friends in our respective circles," he stated.

The 67-year-old minister also highlighted the Indonesian government’s commitment to helping Filipino expatriates in the country through various policies that make their lives easier in the midst of such difficult times.

As a community of foreign citizens in Indonesia, the Filipinos must continue to support and care for one another. Laoly noted that this year's Christmas will bolster ties among fellow community members.

"As representatives of the Indonesian government, I guarantee you that we will always be ready to support all your needs," the minister reiterated.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Panjaitan earlier made a serious and urgent request to all sides to curtail a potential spike in the number of people exposed to COVID-19 during the year-end holidays.

"(We have) perceived an uptrend in the number of year-end holidaymakers. This must be controlled so as not to add (to the count of) people exposed to COVID-19," the minister noted after attending the Indonesia-China Tourism and Investment Forum for five Key Super-Priority Tourism Destinations on Friday.

The uptrend in the number of year-end vacationers is apparent from the frequency of flights at the Silangit Airport in North Tapanuli, North Sumatra.

Panjaitan noted that domestic tourists hold huge potential to support national tourism, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that had led to a shortfall in foreign tourist arrivals.

"However, all must exercise self-restraint in (keeping with) the interests of the nation. The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted all aspects (of our lives), including the economy, thereby reducing the people's welfare," he remarked.

All people should follow health protocols, including wearing masks, washing hands, and maintaining physical distancing while venturing outdoors, he noted.

On Friday, Indonesia had reported 6,689 new COVID-19 cases over a 24-hour period, thereby bringing the total case tally to 650,197 since the country announced its first infections on March 2, 2020.

According to data from the National Task Force for COVID-19 Handling, the number of recoveries rose by 5,016 in the 24-hour period, taking the total count of patients recovering from the virus to 531,995.

The country also reported 124 fatalities across the nation, which brought the death toll to 19,514.
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Translator: Fathur R, Azis Kurmala
Editor: Suharto
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