West Papua's native communities urged to ignore COVID-19 hoaxes

West Papua's native communities urged to ignore COVID-19 hoaxes

A mass vaccination drive in West Papua. The West Papua administration has asked residents to get vaccinated and pay no heed to the misinformation surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations. (FOTO ANTARA/Hans Arnold Kapisa)

Manokwari, W Papua (ANTARA) - The West Papua administration has asked indigenous Papuans and non-native Papuans residing in the province to get vaccinated and pay no heed to the misinformation surrounding COVID-19 vaccinations.

"There are still individuals in local communities who believe that COVID-19 has been created to destroy certain ethnicities. This is absolutely not true at all," West Papua Deputy Governor Muhamad Lakotani said.

Speaking to journalists on the sidelines of a visit to Borasi Field in Manokwari district on Monday to observe a mass vaccination drive there, he said he had received both shots of the COVID-19 vaccine.

"I have fully been vaccinated, and I am well until now," he said, adding that the government's vaccination program is truly aimed at creating herd immunity in communities across Indonesia.

The government has no intention of harming citizens, he said. Instead, it is striving to protect all Indonesians through such healthcare services as the vaccination program, he added.

"The government exists because of the people, and its main task is serving the people through various programs that can lead them to prosper and protect them from such harmful threats as COVID-19," he observed.

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To increase the province's vaccination rate, the provincial government has been working closely with the Indonesian Defence Forces (TNI) and National Police (Polri) to intensify mass vaccination drives for communities, Lakotani said.

West Papua has been struggling to flatten its COVID-19 curve amid the growing threat posed by the more contagious Delta variant of the virus, which has triggered a significant rise in new infections.

To help the provincial government cope with a resurgence of infections, West Papua Governor Dominggus Mandacan announced a partial lockdown in Manokwari district and Sorong City from July 12, 2021.

The decision to impose the partial lockdown from July 12 to July 20 was made after considering the recent surge in infections, the conditions in hospitals, and the vaccination rates in Manokwari and Sorong, he said.

The imposition of the partial lockdown has been supported by assessment level 4 criteria such as hospital bed occupancy, which has exceeded 65 percent, and a significant spike in COVID-19 cases, he informed.

Vaccination rates in the two areas, which have remained below 50 percent, have also been among the parameters considered for the lockdown, Mandacan said, adding that West Papua remains categorized as a red zone, or an area with a very high risk of infection.

People have been prohibited from outdoor activities under the partial lockdown. Essential sectors such as banking, healthcare services, energy and staple food supplies, and export-oriented industries have been exempt from the partial lockdown.

Those involved in logistics, food industries, transportation, construction, disaster mitigation, nation's strategic projects, and provision of basic necessities have been allowed to operate, but in compliance with health protocols, the governor said.

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