Tue, 11 Aug 2020

by Bambang Purwanto

JAKARTA, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) -- The Indonesian COVID-19 Task Force has recently said there has been a drastic increase in the number of offices which became new clusters of the virus infections in Indonesia's capital of Jakarta.

According to the data from the task force, as of July 28, the infection rate at offices in Jakarta greatly increased.

"As of July 28, 2020, 90 clusters were found with the total cases of 459," a member of the task force's expert team, Dewi Nur Aisyah, told an online talk show this week.

The figures were recorded after the Jakarta administration implemented the transition period of the large-scale social distancing policy on June 4, Aisyah said, adding that before the transition period, there were 43 cases of COVID-19 infections at offices in the capital city.

According to her, the infections occurred at different offices including those at ministries, institutions, police stations, state enterprises and private companies.

She recommended that companies or offices apply a work-from-home (WFH) system to prevent their workers from further transmissions of the novel coronavirus as the number of offices as clusters of the COVID-19 infections continue to increase.

If the WFH system is impossible, offices were expected to divide the work shift into two working hours, one starting at 7:00 a.m. and the other at 9:00 a.m. in an effort to avoid crowds at office gates, on lunch time and during traffics.

Paying a special attention to the COVID-19 transmission at work places, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan urged offices in the capital to seriously protect their workers.

"I call on all business activities to seriously care of their workers under tight health protocols. If possible, give the workers briefings every morning to make them aware of the health protocols showing that their work places care of them," the governor told a digital press conference here on Thursday.

Baswedan said if companies fail to remind their workers, the former would suffer losses or even be closed down.

"Law on health quarantine says any effort to hamper someone to do health quarantine constitutes a criminal act. All business activities shall not put their workers into risks. We will take measures on those who violate the law," he said.

Given the fact, legislator Rahmad Handoyo expressed concern over offices as new clusters of the COVID-19.

"This is ironical as people working at offices especially those in Jakarta are educated. They should actually know the way they respond to the COVID-19," Handoyo was quoted by Antara news agency as saying this week.

Before vaccines are available, he said a key to face against the COVID-19 is high discipline by obeying health protocols, wearing health masks, keeping distances and washing hands.

According to the member of the House of Representatives, the growing number of the COVID-19 infections in offices should become a common concern of all parties, particularly companies and workers who should increase their alertness against the deadly virus.

Workers frequently disobey health protocols, do not keep distance when meeting and put health masks off when speaking, he observed, adding that such practices are potential to cause virus transmissions from people without symptoms.

He noted that data from the task force showed that 66 percent of COVID-19 patients were infected by people without symptom.

"I also suggest that a joint lunch after a meeting at an office be avoided as people when eating usually put off their masks, making virus transmission possible," he said.

Meanwhile, an epidemiologist with the University of Indonesia, Pandu Riono, hoped that the central government intervene in measures to overcome the COVID-19 transmission by initiating a concerted effort between Jakarta and its surrounding areas.

Riono said the dynamic mobility of people from West Java province's towns of Bogor, Depok and Bekasi as well as Tangerang in Banten province to Jakarta has made the COVID-19 mitigation difficult.

Although they are located in different provinces, Jakarta and those towns are actually an integrated area.

"So far, efforts to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic are based on their respective administrative authorities, and therefore the central government should initiate a joint task force between the capital city and its satellite towns," he told KOMPAS.com recently.

According to him, the growing number of offices as new clusters of COVID-19 transmissions were detected after the Jakarta administration conducted massive tracking and tests of Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR).

The capacity of Jakarta's PCR tests was almost four times of the World Health Organization's standard, but those buffer towns have no such capacity, he noted.

He pointed out that over the past several days, Jakarta has recorded highest daily increases in the COVID-19 cases totaling between 300 and 400 per day compared to only 15 and 25 cases per day in Depok as a town with the biggest number in West Java.

The Indonesian health ministry reported on Saturday that the COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose by 1,560 within one day to 109,936, with Jakarta recording new 368 cases bringing the total to 21,767 in the capital.

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