TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Indonesian Red Cross is calling on Indonesians to continue practising physical distancing and to exercise greater caution to prevent COVID-19 infections from spiralling out of control as the country adapts to a `new normal’.
COVID-19 cases continue to climb rapidly in Indonesia, with more than 1000 new cases being diagnosed every day over the past three weeks, with a record high of over 2,600 people infected by coronavirus. The country is the hardest hit in South East Asia, with more than 141,370 cases and at least 6,207 deaths, according to the John Hopkins University COVID-19 database.
In response to this surge in cases, Red Cross is actively sending stronger public messaging through awareness campaigns, to contain the spread of the virus, especially as restrictions start to ease in much of the country. In what has been called the “new normal”, offices, schools, places of worship, malls, markets, and tourist attractions are reopening in some regions as four months of large-scale social restrictions are lifted.
Indonesian Red Cross Secretary General Sudirman Said: “Transmissions will continue to rise unless communities adapt their daily lives by applying strict health protocols during this new normal phase.”
“We are intensifying our efforts to educate the public about the importance of changing their behaviour for good by physical distancing, wearing masks and practising good hygiene. We are mobilizing our thousands of brave volunteers to work directly and safely with communities while reaching out on social media and across radio airwaves and loudspeakers.
“These times are tough, but people are staying strong. The challenge is to effectively reach all our diverse communities living on 6,000 inhabited islands. This calls for a unified, unprecedented, large scale effort to reach all parts of society, in every corner of our country.”
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Indonesian Red Cross is mobilising around 7,000 volunteers to provide important health services to 1.5 million people. Volunteers have also carried out health promotion activities for more than five million people focusing on eight priority provinces which have the highest COVID-19 cases in the country, which is the fourth most populous in the world.
This effort has been backed by the International Federation of Red Cross (IFRC), which launched a global appeal to provide support to the world’s most at risk countries, including Indonesia.
IFRC’s Head of Country Cluster Support Team, Jan Gelfand said: “This global pandemic presents an unprecedented challenge, requiring global cooperation but a local response. As cases rise in Indonesia, Red Cross is doubling its efforts, using all available resources to slow the spread of this virus. Red Cross recognises that individuals and communities have a critical role to play, by changing their behaviour, they can help to control COVID in this new normal.”