Indonesia Not Disclosing Covid-19 Contact Tracing

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Laila Afifa

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  • Women wearing protective masks stand as they wait for a bus at a sidewalk in Jakarta, Indonesia March 2, 2020. The daughter and the Japanese woman went dancing at a venue in Jakarta on Feb. 14, Putranto said. The Japanese national informed the daughter on Feb. 28 that she had been infected. Two other people sharing the house with the infected Indonesians had not shown symptoms of coronavirus, he added. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

    Women wearing protective masks stand as they wait for a bus at a sidewalk in Jakarta, Indonesia March 2, 2020. The daughter and the Japanese woman went dancing at a venue in Jakarta on Feb. 14, Putranto said. The Japanese national informed the daughter on Feb. 28 that she had been infected. Two other people sharing the house with the infected Indonesians had not shown symptoms of coronavirus, he added. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The Indonesian government is not disclosing the contact tracing data of people who had interacted with confirmed Covid-19 cases. This in contrast with neighboring Singapore, where there is an app that allows the public to access the latest information on cases, their locations, and the traces of their interactions.

    Indonesia's coronavirus response spokesman Achmad Yurianto said there are several strong reasons for keeping this information under wraps. The first is the social condition of Indonesians in general.

    "It is not easy to make our people [have the same views and reactions] as Singaporeans," he said at the President's office today, March 10.

    However, Yurianto said that it doesn’t mean the government is tracking these contacts in secrecy. "Surely we talk to [the people] around [the patients]," he said.  

    Taking lessons from what happened when putting repatriated Indonesians from Wuhan in Natuna, Yurianto said the government is not taking chances of people being made outcasts by the society in areas they live in.

    "We know what it was like to get strong rejections when we decided on Natuna as a place for observation. So, we are being careful here," he said whilst ensuring that all health institutions are acting under one system and one policy.  

    Another factor put into consideration is Indonesia's vast geography. The government is not tracking these contacts in small clusters. They have traced contacts as far as outside Java, with high mobility.

    Yurianto said that for now the data will not be made public the way Singapore did because it would "cause unnecessary responses, as we do not have the same understanding."   

    Yurianto ensured the government will be even more active in tracking down the people who came into contact with Covid-19 patients. 

    He asserted that the best way to minimize and even stop the virus from spreading further is by finding positive cases and isolating them. "Otherwise, they will be spreaders."

    Yurianto said that for now, the government is unable to make the contact tracing data public, as it may risk some people getting scared and fleeing to other cities, which would create a higher risk of the virus spreading to more areas. 

    Dewi Nurita