Social Distancing; an Effort to Slow Down the Spread of Covid-19

The Indonesian Central Government and the Provincial Government of DKI Jakarta urge citizens to practice social distancing. Responding to this appeal, many schools and tourist attractions have been closed. Companies are also urged to enact work-from-home policy.

President Joko ‘Jokowi’ Widodo greeting the attendees with ‘namaste’ hand gesture after the opening of the HKTI National Conference IX at the State Palace on Thursday (3/12). (Source: Presidential Secretary Press Bureau)

ACTNews, JAKARTA - "It's time for us to work from home, learn from home, worship at home," said President Joko Widodo in a press conference at the Bogor Palace on Sunday (3/15). This appeal was delivered because of the spread of the corona virus or Covid-19 in several regions in Indonesia.

This step was taken to hamper the spread of COVID-19. The same appeal came from the Provincial Government of DKI Jakarta. The message was delivered through the official Instagram account of DKI Jakarta Governor, Anies Baswedan. Taking into account the transmission of the coronavirus through social interaction, Anies urged Jakarta residents to practice social distancing.

"By maintaining safe distance between people, reducing encounters, avoiding physical contact, staying away from crowds," Anies said.

He urged Jakartans not to leave their houses unless it is very important and try to work and hold meetings remotely, avoid places that could potentially be infected, and postpone any gathering.

Ancol tourist sites sprayed with liquid disinfectant. (ANTARA / Aditya Pradana Putra)

In addition, it is also recommended to perform worship at home. Wedding receptions are also recommended to be postponed or held with strict supervision by the wedding organizer. Likewise, students who are on holiday are not advised to travel, going out of town or even going back to their hometown. These are all necessary to limit the transmission of the corona virus.

"Discipline is the key. And in times of epidemics like this, do not hesitate to practice social distance. It is done for our own good, in order to protect the safety of all of us," explained Anies.

Health experts appreciated the advice to maintain social distance. Dr. Panji Hadisoemarto, M.P.H, a graduate of Harvard T.H.Chan School of Public Health and Lecturer in the Department of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine, Padjajaran University was among those supporting this decision Quoted from Kompas, he said that we do not have to enact a lockdown, but what is needed is social distancing.

"I cannot answer certainly (when we should start maintaining social distance), but one tentative answer that I always give is 'The sooner the better'," Panji said in the Webinar titled 'Facing Covid-19 in Indonesia' by Harvard Club Indonesia, last Saturday (3/14).

Panji then explained that social distancing has a broad scale. Social distancing can be done privately by avoiding crowds or people who are sick, or carried out by the government and authorities by imposing a policy to prevent people from going to the office or crowds. Even more useful is that social distancing precedes community transmission, which according to the World Health Organization (WHO) classification is a condition in which most confirmed cases cannot be linked through the chain of transmission.

A number of anticipatory steps have been taken by local governments in Indonesia, including closing schools, offices, and a number of tourist attractions.

The Special Region of Jakarta Provincial Government, for instance, has urged companies in the capital city to implement work-from-home policy. According to Kompas, the appeal was stipulated through Circular Letter Number 14 / SE / 2020 issued by the Head of DKI Jakarta Manpower, Transmigration and Energy Office Andri Yansyah, Sunday (3/15).

People who do activities outside need to take precautions to protect themselves from the virus, such as wearing masks and washing hands frequently. Aksi Cepat Tanggap (ACT) has taken action by distributing hundreds of thousands of free masks to the visitors of Soekarno Hatta Airport and Indonesian citizens in Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and China.

ACT has also continued to provide health counseling. Until Thursday (3/12), at least 13,500 people have benefitted from health counseling held to prevent the spread of COVID-19. This number will continue to grow as more counseling will be done outside Jakarta. "Our medical team also provides Training of Trainers in ACT branches throughout Indonesia. Hopefully, this counseling can be extended to remote areas," said Doctor Muhammad Riedha Bambang from ACT's medical team. []