Indonesia to step up mask-wearing campaign amid rising Covid-19 cases

Passengers wearing face masks queue for a public bus in Jakarta on July 27, 2020. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - The Indonesian government is set to step up its public campaign to encourage mask-wearing in the next few weeks as Covid-19 cases in the country continue to rise.

"(President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo) has asked us to educate the public on health protocols," Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy said in a statement on Tuesday (Aug 4).

"We (will) start with the essential, which is mask-wearing."

Muhadjir said the government would establish a program, spearheaded by the coordinating minister's office, to intensify the campaign to wear a face mask in public places, including appointing a mask-wearing "ambassador" and distributing social aid packages that include face masks.

Additionally, the government plans to issue public service commercials in print and online publications, social media and billboards, in addition to educating the public on the law regarding wearing a face mask.

"The main targets of this campaign are people who have activities in traditional and modern markets, terminals, stations, public facilities, houses of worship, public open spaces, those who co-live such as in orphanages and those who have activities on the streets and so on," he said.

The coordinating minister also ordered the Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises Ministry and the State-Owned Enterprises Ministry to procure a large number of face masks from micro and ultra-micro industries to fulfill the public need while supporting small businesses.

The government drafted the campaign amid rising cases of Covid-19 in the country after most regional administrations began easing restrictions in early June to prevent a further economic downturn.

Compliance with health protocols still leaves much to be desired. For example, the Jakarta administration announced Monday that it had collected a total of Rp 2.47 billion (S$230,000) in fines from violators of social restrictions, including from 62,198 people who were not wearing a mask.

Businesses have also been fined for failing to adhere to health protocols, such as limiting visitor capacity.

According to the official government count, Indonesia has 118,753 confirmed Covid-19 cases with 5,521 deaths as of Thursday.

The virus has spread to all of the country's 34 provinces.

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