Muslims perform congregational noon prayer at Jakarta's Istiqlal Mosque on March 20. (B1 Photo/Joanito De Saojoao)

Idul Fitri Comes as Real Test for Jakarta's Fight Against Coronavirus

BY :HOTMAN SIREGAR, HERU ANDRIYANTO

MAY 19, 2020

Jakarta. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan has decided to extend the city's large-scale social restriction, or PSBB, until June 4 for what he wished would be the last time before the capital could reopen.

Indonesia's capital city, the epicenter of the outbreak, first imposed the 14-day PSBB on April 10.

However, the real test will come this weekend when Indonesian Muslims celebrate Idul Fitri, the day after the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.

Normally during their biggest holiday, Muslims would hold a congregational prayer in the morning and meet relatives and friends later to ask forgiveness and celebrate the moment.

"We're about to embrace Lebaran, but please stay at home with your families and refrain from outdoor activities so that we can end this PSBB once and for all. The government and law enforcement officials alone can't make this happen, everyone has to make an effort," Anies told reporters at City Hall on Tuesday afternoon.

He claimed the peak of the Covid-19 transmissions in the city was already past in March, despite the capital remaining among the biggest contributors to daily cases nationwide until today.

"Remember that we once had the highest number [of coronavirus transmissions] in March. We don't want to return to that level again. We want to continue [to progress] from the current condition," Anies said.

Earlier in the day, the National Covid-19 Task Force said 26 provinces had reported new cases in the past 24 hours. 

Jakarta had the most cases with 98. The capital city now has a total of 6,155 confirmed Covid-19 cases.

Nationwide there were 489 new confirmed cases of Covid-19 on Tuesday, taking the total number of cases to 18,496.

This was the eighth consecutive day when the number of daily cases surpassed 480, continuing the country's toughest week since the outbreak began in early March.

East Java, which has emerged as a new breeding ground for the coronavirus since late April, reported 81 new cases to take the province's total to 2,377.

South Sumatra was Tuesday's third-biggest contributor with 60 cases.

The national tally also includes 1,221 deaths, 30 more than a day earlier.

Task Force spokesman Achmad Yurianto said 143 more Covid-19 patients have recovered from the disease, bringing the total number of patients who have been discharged from hospitals to 4,467, or 24 percent of the total cases.

Anies said the fourth stage of the social restriction starting on Friday is hopefully the last, but he admitted things might take a turn for the worse if residents didn't honor social distancing guidelines especially during Idul Fitri.

During this critical period, the governor said all Jakarta residents must strictly observe social distancing and follow health protocol such as washing hands frequently, wearing masks and avoiding public gathering and social activities.

"If we do this together, we can reopen Jakarta, of course under what people have been calling the new normal," he said. 

"The period between May 22 and June 4 will provide a clue to determine whether or not Covid-19 transmissions in Jakarta can be contained," Anies said.

If the fourth stage of the PSBB is successful, the city government will decide which business sectors can reopen first, he said.

Separately, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said the government has not banned people from holding the Idul Fitri prayer, but they must do so in accordance with the health protocol.

"What we are asking is that the prayer has to follow the health protocol and that means it has to be performed at home. We've said this often enough," Jokowi said in a video conference from the State Palace.

On Monday, the Covid-19 Task Force invited the Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) to brief Muslims that they are allowed to hold the Idul Fitri prayer at home during the pandemic.

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