President Joko Widodo has called on regional officials and the citizens of East Java to be more disciplined in curbing the spread of the coronavirus as the province looks set to have the highest COVID-19 caseload in the country.
During this week’s visit to the province, Jokowi said he received a report that the majority of East Javans do not wear face masks when they’re out and about.
“I was notified by the COVID-19 Task Force that 70 percent [of East Javans] still don’t wear masks. This is a huge number,” Jokowi said.
The president called on religious and public figures in the province to raise awareness about the importance of face masks and other precautionary measures.
“Today I am asking the task force, the health minister, to send as many masks as possible to Surabaya and the rest of East Java,” he added.
As of June 24, East Java has confirmed 10,298 COVID-19 cases in the province. In recent weeks, the province has been quickly closing the gap on Jakarta, which has confirmed 10,404 cases and has topped the nation’s caseload by province since the outbreak officially began in early March.
East Java has been adding at least 100 new cases per day recently, with the latest daily addition of 183 from June 23 to 24 being the highest spike among the country’s provinces.
Speaking to President Jokowi, East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa said her province had managed to lower the coronavirus’ rate of transmission in early June, but it picked up in the subsequent weeks due to public indiscipline, citing the people’s reluctance to hold virtual family gatherings for Eid (May 23-24) as one example.
“It’s not easy calling on the people to hold digital family gatherings because they say it’s not satisfactory,” Khofifah said.
Both the central government and the East Java provincial government agree that restrictions cannot yet be eased in the province, which is home to more than 38 million people.
On the city/regency level, the East Java capital of Surabaya currently has the highest COVID-19 death rate in Indonesia.
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