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Coronavirus: Indonesia declares health emergency

Coronavirus: Indonesia declares health emergency
President Joko Widodo also announces $24.7 billion package to minimize virus' impact on economy

By Erric Permana, Nicky Aulia Widadio

JAKARTA (AA) - Indonesian president declared on Tuesday a national public health emergency over the coronavirus pandemic, and announced an additional $24.7 billion spending to mitigate the impact.

"The government has determined COVID-19 as a type of disease causing community emergencies. Therefore, it is setting out public health emergency status," Joko Widodo told a news conference.

"I have decided to impose large-scale social restrictions as stipulated by Law No.6/2018 on Health Quarantines."

He also issued a presidential decree on the emergency status.

The decision comes as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Southeast Asian nation reached 1,528, with 136 deaths.

Widodo asked local and regional leaders to comply with the current policies, and not to issue their own regulations.

"All regulations must be in accordance with the law, government regulation, as well as the presidential decree," he said.

The president added that he had ordered the National Police to fully enforce the restrictions.

Although measures have not been referred as "lockdown", schools and entertainment venues are closed, and a work from home policy has been enforced nationwide.

- Bailout package

The head of state also announced a budget of 405.1 trillion rupiah ($24.7 billion) to minimize the impact of the virus on the economy.

"We prepare a social safety net for the grassroots to be able to meet basic needs, and maintain purchasing power. We will also maintain the business world, specially the SMEs, in order to continue to operate and maintain the absorption of their workforce," he said.

SMEs refer to small and medium-sized enterprises.

While 75 trillion rupiah ($4.5 billion) will be channeled for healthcare (protective equipment, treatment, infrastructure), 110 trillion rupiah ($6.7 billion) will pay for social safety net, and 70.1 trillion rupiah ($4.2) for tax incentives and stimulus for businesses.

In addition, 150 trillion rupiah ($9 billion) have been allocated to fund the national economic recovery program.

- ‘Indonesia will not imitate other countries’

President Widodo said that Indonesia would not "imitate" other countries in overcoming the crisis.

"We must learn from experiences of other countries but we cannot just imitate them, because all countries have their own characteristics, be it area, population, discipline, geographical conditions, the economy of the people, character and culture and so on," he said.

The virus has killed more than 38,000 people and infected over 800,000 in 178 countries, according to figures collated by the U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. It was first detected in China, the country that has largely come out of the crisis.

*Writing by Maria Elisa Hospita

source: News Feed
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