Indonesia open to help from Singapore to fight coronavirus outbreak: President Joko

President Joko Widodo did not elaborate what kind of help and the amount would be given.
President Joko Widodo did not elaborate what kind of help and the amount would be given.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Indonesia is open to accepting aid from Singapore in its fight against the coronavirus, President Joko Widodo said on Monday (March 16).

Speaking to reporters at the State Palace in Bogor, Mr Joko said that he had spoken to Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong about the assistance, but did not elaborate what kind of help and the amount that would be given.

"I spoke with PM Lee last week on the phone. Singapore wants to help us with much aid," he said.

He added: "If they want to help us, we will accept it."

In response to media queries, a spokesman from Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign affairs said on Monday that Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong had spoken to Mr Joko on March 11, to reaffirm Singapore’s commitment to work with Indonesia to fight the pandemic.

“Singapore has been in close touch with the relevant Indonesian ministries and agencies on the Covid-19 situation, including on the provision of medical equipment to Indonesia. The Singapore government has also contributed personal protective equipment to the Batam Health Office at its request,” the spokesman said.

Last Friday, the Singaporean Consul-General in Batam, Mr Mark Low, handed over 50 hazmat suits and two ventilators to Batam Mayor Muhammad Rudi as the city is tackling a rising number of infections.

Indonesia has confirmed 134 cases and recorded five deaths caused by Covid-19 as of Monday.

It has stepped up efforts to combat the virus in the vast archipelago of more than 17,000 islands by implementing social distancing measures, which include closing schools in the capital Jakarta for two weeks starting on Monday.

Middle and low-ranked civil servants  have been encouraged to work from home and people have also been advised to conduct their religious activities at home.

A number of companies are also making arrangements for their employees to work from home.