COVID-19 Task Force Chief: Don't Entirely Depend on Central Govt

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  • National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) chief Doni Monardo and State-owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir check on the disinfectant spraying activities at Gambir Station, Thursday, March 12, 2020. TEMPO/Taufiq Siddiq

    National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) chief Doni Monardo and State-owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir check on the disinfectant spraying activities at Gambir Station, Thursday, March 12, 2020. TEMPO/Taufiq Siddiq

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Chairman of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) Lt. Gen. Doni Monardo, who was appointed by President Joko Widodo or Jokowi as chief of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (Covid-19) task force, faces a big challenge from the global pandemic originated in Wuhan, China.

    To Tempo reporters Mahardika Satria Hadi, Devy Ernis and Raymundus Rikang, on Thursday, March 26, former commander of the Indonesian army’s special forces explained government’s preparedness to face the pandemic, the plan to construct emergency hospitals in the regions for Covid-19 patients and his view on the regional quarantine option.

    Why hasn’t the government considered the lockdown option for Jakarta to contain the coronavirus?

    This question has been asked many times. About lockdown, slowdown or whatever, I have said repeatedly not to debate the status because every country has its own characteristics. Now, if Jakarta is locked down, what about the embassies of friendly countries? Is it possible for other governments to repatriate their citizens from Jakarta? And will Jakarta be capable of sustaining itself or of meeting its needs on its own? We need to understand these points first.

    But Jakarta has already become the pandemic epicenter in Indonesia.

    When a regional quarantine or lockdown is enforced, in accordance with the Article 55 of the law No. 6/2018 on health quarantine, the government must bear the costs of basic needs of the entire population in that region including their pets. That will deplete all our resources. The government must obey the law, you see. If the law is implemented with the specified requirements, what kind of impact will it have?

    Then what is the best solution the government has at the moment?

    Let us unite and follow the state’s political decision. Pak Jokowi has decided that social distancing or as per today’s interpretation physical distancing is the best solution. This is also the latest recommendation from the World Health Organization (WHO). Whatever our government decides to do, it does so based on various input and recommendations.

    Is it possible to halt the spread of the virus to the regions without lockdown?

    I am the head of the taskforce at the central level. We have governors at the regional level and their deputies are regional military command commanders and regional police chiefs. They can implement local policies as long as they do not run counter to the national policies nor affect other regions. As a simple example, if lockdown is an option, start it at RT (neighborhood units) level first. When an infected RT is locked down, no one must leave or enter it. All its needs will be fulfilled by surrounding RTs or the RW (community unit). Prove your solidarity first. If you want to take it to the next level, try at the kelurahan or urban community level. If other kelurahan are able to help locked down an area, we don’t need national quarantine.

    Read the full interview in Tempo English Magazine