Involve religious figures and local community to be role models for public
Jakarta (ANTARA) - Iwan Ariawan, epidemiologist from the Public Health Faculty of the University of Indonesia (UI), has expressed hope that religious leaders and community prominent figures outside Java Island and Bali would be able to become role models in handling COVID-19 pandemic.

High mobility of residents outside Java and Bali has become one of the factors leading to a surge in COVID-19 cases in the areas.

“Involve religious figures and local community to be role models for public,” Ariawan said here on Sunday.

The COVID-19 handling outside Java and Bali should be adjusted to the social condition and local cultures, according to him.

Hence, communication experts and sociologists who thoroughly comprehend the local community condition should be involved in handling COVID-19 outside Java and Bali.

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The religious leaders and local community prominent figures should also be involved in edifying public, he stressed, adding the government should explain to them in advance pertaining to the reasons why public activity restrictions (PPKM) is imposed and the government’s plans in handling the pandemic.

In addition, the regional administration heads outside Java and Bali should monitor the PPKM enforcement regularly and strictly, he said.

“The PPKM’s regular coordination meetings in Java and Bali are directly chaired by Luhut Binsar Panjaitan (Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment)) and he directly checks the PPKM enforcement in each province,” he informed.

He also said that COVID-19 public awareness campaign and testing in regions are considered to be low.

“The testing must be improved and rapid antigen test should be available in the regions where PCR test kits are not there or difficult to find,” Ariawan noted.

The surge in COVID-19 case number had been reported in six provinces outside Java and Bali Islands over the past month. According to the COVID-19 Handling Task Force on Thursday (August 12, 2021), those six provinces included North Sumatera with additional 21,830 active cases.

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The number of East Kalimantan's COVID-19 cases rose by 15,758 cases, South Sulawesi with 10,852 cases, West Sumatra with 10,707 cases, Riau with 10,523 cases, and South Kalimantan with 10,087 cases.

According to the COVID-19 Handling Task Force, however, a declining case trend was apparent in some provinces, such as East Kalimantan, Riau, West Sumatera, and South Sulawesi as of August 11, 2021 following the PPKM enforcement.

“The cases start to decline in several last days, but PPKM should be enforced and extended outside Java and Bali Islands for two weeks in order to be more significant,” Information Technology and Data Division Head of the COVID-19 Handling Task Force, Dewi Nur Aisyah, said.

PPKM enforcement in Java and Bali is deemed as successful in decreasing COVID-19 cases, according to her, adding that hospital bed occupancy rate (BOR) in COVID-19 hospitals has started to decline.

BOR in Jakarta, West Java, Central Java, East Java, and Banten has recorded below the WHO standard, which is 60 percent, she said.

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Translator: Boyke Ledy, Juwita Trisna R
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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