The government imposes a ban on citizens coming in from Britain, in hopes that it can protect our citizens in the country
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Chief of the COVID-19 Handling Task Force, Military Lieutenant General Doni Monardo, affirmed that the government is taking requisite precautionary measures against the emergence of the new coronavirus strain firstly discovered in the Great Britain.

The new strain, considered to be 70 percent more infectious, has already been discovered in Australia and Singapore.

During a Talk Show themed "Outlook 2021: Indonesia's Post-Pandemic Image" held in Jakarta, Thursday, (December 24), Monardo noted that Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan had held a ministerial-level meeting in the week prior, involving epidemiology and health experts, to gain insights into the matter.

Following President Joko Widodo's directives to not impose consecutive long holidays, the Christmas and New Year holidays were set apart in order to ensure there are no consecutive days off in an attempt to avert increased transmission of COVID-19.

The Task Force also seeks to limit transmission through the circular letter pertaining to the travel of foreign and Indonesian citizens from certain countries, where the SARS-CoV-2 strain was discovered.

"The government imposes a ban on citizens coming in from Britain, in hopes that it can protect our citizens in the country. Usually, foreigners, who arrive in Indonesia, must furnish negative results of their swab tests, followed by another swab test once they arrive in the country and have to wait for the results to come out under mandatory self-quarantine in a place regulated by the government for five days. Afterwards, another PCR swab is repeated," he expounded.

Monardo further noted that such measures are expected to be more effective in protecting the community, considering that since last March, the COVID-19 Handling Task Force team along with the Ministry of Health, military and police forces, immigration forces, PT Angkasa Pura, and PT Pelindo had also noted nearly three thousand COVID-19 positive numbers from those coming into Indonesia.

"There were tens of thousands of people, who came in and turned out to be nearly three thousand, maybe 2,800 people were infected with COVID-19. If our officers at the airport and the entrance were not optimal (in conducting their duties), there would certainly be more cases. Hence, on this occasion, I, as the head of the Task Force, would like to express my gratitude to all elements on the field, including the Port Health Office, elements of the military and police forces and volunteers, of course, to prevent the spread COVID-19 in the public," he stated.
Despite several countries having boasted negative results for COVID-19 tests conducted on their public, he said at least 100 people had been screened for the SARS-CoV-2 infection.

"Although the swab testing result was negative, it turned out to be positive again," he pointed out.

Hence, he reminded the public to not become lax and continue to adhere to health protocols, as a social capital to break the chain of the spread of COVID-19, given that uncertainty still looms large as to when the pandemic will end.

Meanwhile, Minister of Research and Technology, Bambang Brodjonegoro, concurrently head of the National Research and Innovation Agency, stated that there was no evidence that a new variant of the new coronavirus, discovered in the Great Britain, had spread in Indonesia, although Indonesia's genomic surveillance is admittedly not as sophisticated as that of Britain.

The minister also remarked that although Australia and Singapore had already detected the new strain, he urged the public to not harbor concerns, given that the new coronavirus variant had not been scientifically proven to cause severity of the disease.

Brodjonegoro explained that further evidence was still required to determine the effects of this new variant of the virus. He urged the public to follow best practices recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Translator: Virna P Setyorini/Aria Cindyar
Editor: Sri Haryati
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