As thespreads fast in , experts believe that the country will become Asia’s new epicenter. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has been criticized for not implementing a nationwide lockdown.
Yet such measures would not be a silver bullet to contain COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. Other countries such as South Korea and have flattened the curve while keeping businesses and schools open. has a lot to learn from these two countries on how to contain the virus without locking down the whole country.
South Korea Shows the Way Forward for Post-Pandemic Recovery
At the time of publishing, there have been over 12,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in and 870 deaths. Given the lack of widespread testing in a country with a population of 267 million, it is likely that the actual number of cases is far higher than this. According to a study by the University of Indonesia, there could be 1.5 million people infected and 140,000 deaths by the end of May.
Indonesia’s Response to COVID-19
The said that Indonesians are immune to COVID-19 due to their prayers. He also publicly dismissed a report by Harvard researchers that projected infection rates in . Similarly, deliberately misinformed the public early on to prevent them from panicking.’s response to the crisis has been lackluster. At the beginning of the outbreak, Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto famously
In the past several weeks, the government has increased its containment measures. Jokowi has established a COVID-19 task force and declared a national emergency. However, experts believe thatis still behind the curve.
Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization, has also urged Jokowi to scale up ’s COVID-19 response mechanisms. Others believe that the country must implement a nationwide lockdown instead of only a partial one. But Jokowi maintains that this is off the table as he believes there are economic, social, political and security aspects that must be considered.
Alternatively,can learn from and as these two countries have successfully contained the without implementing a nationwide lockdown. To date, both countries have gradually removed some of the social distancing measures as the number of new infections goes down.
In contacted South Korea’s president, Moon Jae In, to seek advice on how to combat the virus., the infection rate has decreased from more than 900 cases a day to just under 10 cases per day. French President Emmanuel Macron and Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven have both
Similarly, despite its close proximity to China (130 kilometers away), visitors traveled to and, as of January, there were dozens of flights between Wuhan — the Chinese city where COVID-19 first emerged — and Taipei every week. Yet at the time of publishing, only has 438 confirmed cases of COVID-19.has effectively managed the outbreak without drastic restrictions. In 2019, 2.71 million Chinese
Learning From South Korea and Taiwan
There are some key principles thatcan emulate from and ’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
First, South Korea and Taiwan hold daily media briefings to provide the public with timely, accurate and simple updates about the outbreak. Open and transparent communication can increase public engagement, prevent misinformation and stop people from panicking. As South Korea’s Vice Health Minister Kim Gang-Lip suggested, “public participation must be secured through openness and transparency.”must commit to open and transparent communication. Officials in both
Second, self-diagnosis app to report their health conditions to the government.should incorporate advanced technology into its containment efforts. In , the government deployed a smartphone app to track the movements of those who have been ordered to self-quarantine. Additionally, travelers from China are required to download a
In electronic fence” that utilizes mobile phone signals to track people who are ordered to self-isolate. To ensure compliance, officials receive an alert when cellphones are turned off for more than 15 minutes. The government also integrated databases owned by the National Health Insurance Administration, National Immigration Agency and the Customs Administration to monitor people’s travel and medical history. As more than 70% of Indonesians have access to the internet through mobile phones, the use of advanced technology can significantly improve the government’s containment measures., the government uses an “
Finally, lowest testing rates in the world at 444 tests per 1 million people, compared with 12,488 in South Korea and 2,727 in . Although Jokowi has repeatedly called for more testing, it remains to be seen whether or not can boost its capacity. Widespread testing would provide reliable data to inform decision-making and enable the government to identify infection hotspots.must improve its testing capacity. The country has one of the
For, a total lockdown could indeed have cataclysmic social and economic consequences. The country surely needs an alternative approach. Open and transparent communication with the public, combined with widespread testing and the use of advanced technology similar to what and have demonstrated, can help manage the .
The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Fair Observer’s editorial policy.
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