Q&A: Jakarta’s governor on bringing the coronavirus under control | Coronavirus pandemic News

Jakarta, Indonesia – Southeast Asia’s greatest metropolis is easing COVID-19 restrictions this week, coming into what authorities name a transition interval.

After weeks of partial lockdown – mosques, church buildings and temples will welcome worshippers, eating places will open their doorways, and employees across the capital will return to their places of work – all at half capability.


For months, Indonesia – and particularly, its densely populated capital metropolis – was a reason for main concern within the area.

There have been fears it will develop into the subsequent international epicentre of the virus. Dozens of nations suggested their residents to depart Indonesia, over fears the nation’s well being system would collapse below the pressure of the outbreak.

And whereas some have expressed concern that Jakarta is easing restrictions too quickly, metropolis governor Anies Baswedan informed Al Jazeera’s Jessica Washington the state of affairs has modified dramatically, and he’s assured the worst is over.

Al Jazeera: It has been round three months since Indonesia confirmed its first case of COVID-19. How would you assess the state of affairs right here in Jakarta, and throughout the nation?

Anies Baswedan: Previously month, COVID-19 continues to be a problem, however not as huge because it was in March and April.

We began with eight hospitals devoted for COVID sufferers. At this time, we have now 67 hospitals for dealing with COVID instances. Jakarta right this moment has flattened the curve, and we’re shifting into a brand new interval, which we name transition.

We’re not but capable of say Jakarta is protected, wholesome and productive – however we’re shifting into that route.

Al Jazeera: Earlier than we come to that transition, let’s speak in regards to the restrictions that we have now all been residing below for the previous few months. What have been a number of the challenges in imposing these restrictions?

Baswedan: We’re so lucky that once we determined to shut our colleges, at first of March, there was nearly no unfavorable response. Everybody agreed. After we known as for the personal sector to work at home, everybody responded positively. After we known as spiritual leaders, and I defined to them, that is the state of affairs, everybody responded in a constructive method.


Anies Baswedan, the governor of Jakarta, prays after the lockdown in Indonesia’s capital was relaxed [Tri Handhono/Al Jazeera] 

However, at first of early Ramadan (the Muslim fasting month), we began to see a rise within the variety of individuals leaving their residence. It is simply individuals needing to be outdoors, to satisfy, and see the world – it is pure. But it surely hasn’t disturbed our efforts to manage the pandemic.

Al Jazeera: Clearly, it is easy for some individuals to work at home – for others, every day wage earners on a low earnings, it is not that easy.

Baswedan: That was why, once we introduced the restrictions, we started offering meals subsidies to households that wanted help. We began to try this earlier than the restrictions have been adopted. We distributed these to 1.2 million households in Jakarta.

After two weeks, we distributed one other batch. We’ll proceed to supply this help till the economic system is ticking once more.

Al Jazeera: There was loads of concern from different international locations about how Indonesia would deal with this outbreak – some international locations informed their residents to depart … and go residence. Are you assured it’s protected for these residents to return?

Baswedan: They’ll have a look at our strategy. We’re being constant in implementing coverage, we have been clear. We’re doing all the things we will to be sure that Jakarta is a good residence for everybody, together with the worldwide group. Let’s take a look at the place we’re – Jakarta is able to be a part of the worldwide group.

Al Jazeera: Now we’re coming into this transition interval, you’ve got talked about an emergency brake coverage – that if instances started to spike, we might have restrictions reintroduced. What would it not take so that you can use that brake?

Baswedan: We do not wish to see new instances, new sufferers, or new fatalities. If these numbers abruptly bounce to the extent that’s worrying to us, we’ll pull that brake. The transition interval shouldn’t be taken with no consideration; we have now to work for this.

We’re monitoring it each day, and we might just like the transition to be easy. The emergency brake is a final resort.

Al Jazeera: How involved are you about individuals who left Jakarta earlier than Eid (the celebration on the finish of the fasting month), now making an attempt to return to town?

Baswedan: Very a lot. Final month, I launched a legislation requiring entry and exit permits for Jakarta. We are attempting to handle the transmissions inside Jakarta, and now, we might like to ensure there is no mobility that disrupts the soundness of the state of affairs. We’re imposing these guidelines at our borders.

Al Jazeera: There was that interval, earlier than Eid, when there was confusion: Folks have been ready for the nationwide authorities to decide, and in the end, journey again to hometowns earlier than Eid was banned. However initially, there was combined messaging from the federal government. Was that irritating for you?

Baswedan: My message to everybody from the start was, don’t depart Jakarta. The rationale was easy: We did not need COVID-19 to unfold. We perceive the challenges of well being amenities outdoors the capital, and it is loads higher right here. My message was at all times – don’t depart as a result of if you happen to do, it’s possible you’ll not have the ability to return, as you would like.

Al Jazeera: It is a sophisticated state of affairs, although, is not it? The messaging from the central authorities wasn’t constant. Then, we had journey restrictions introduced in and watered down. Was it troublesome for you, figuring out that the messaging wasn’t the identical throughout the board?

Baswedan: It is a state of affairs that we in authorities may be reflective and study from this era. The general public wants a constant message. Now, we’re doing significantly better. However we at all times work in shut coordination with the central authorities, we at all times report our insurance policies, and in reality, the enforcement of our guidelines is by the assistance of the nationwide authorities.

Al Jazeera: However earlier on, there was loads of criticism towards the central authorities. What ought to have been completed in a different way?

Baswedan: Now, from our expertise in Jakarta, it is vital to be united. It does not matter which get together or politics.

It is the identical factor on the nationwide degree; it is now time for us to help the insurance policies of the president. The challenges are advanced and heavy, and throughout Indonesia.

What’s wanted: decisiveness, and readability in message, and consistency.

Al Jazeera: There was criticism that the central authorities wasn’t being clear. Is {that a} mistake, to not be open with the general public?

Baswedan: I can solely remark about our insurance policies. We consider that we have now to be clear, particularly on well being points. On safety, technique – that is a unique ball recreation. However on the problem of public well being, it is a pandemic, if we did not inform the general public, there is no method we will management the unfold of the virus.

Al Jazeera: One factor that’s key to controlling the unfold is testing. The brand new goal set by the president is 20,000 exams per day. How assured are you that may be achieved?

Baswedan: I do hope that 20,000 a day is achievable. In March, even 1,000 appeared so excessive. Our labs are designed for analysis, not for dealing with a pandemic. However we reworked ourselves.

Al Jazeera: The president has talked about this concept of the “new regular”. What does that imply to you?

Baswedan: We want to come again to a state of affairs the place our society feels protected, and may be productive. Social actions, cultural actions and schooling can all perform, however there are new habits to study.

Within the early ’90s, all of us drove bikes and by no means wore helmets. Then, we adopted that coverage. Now, everybody does it, however it takes time. Now, sporting a face masks is one thing we have to develop into a brand new norm. 

Pediatric Multi-System Inflammatory Syndrome

A member of the family places a face masks on a baby in Jakarta throughout the coronavirus outbreak [Willy Kurniawan/Reuters]

Al Jazeera: There was loads of concern in Jakarta – in regards to the demise fee, about low testing, and undetected instances. Are you assured, for probably the most half, town is within the clear?

Baswedan: Sure. We would have liked to be sure that they have been ready, even for the worst-case situation. The medical doctors, paramedics, hospitals … if that’s all prepared, then I am snug to begin this transition interval.

Al Jazeera: We all know that there have been situations of over-crowding: at markets, on the airport, and extra. What must be completed to be sure that does not occur? 

Baswedan: Instances will at all times be there. We have to have a look at it from the broader perspective. We’re speaking about 10 million individuals. The truth that six million stayed residence. Some didn’t, and you’ll at all times see that. Regulation enforcement is vital, tracing and testing can be key.

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