Indonesian President Joko Widodo declares Covid-19 outbreak 'national disaster', gives task force broader authority

The decree by President Joko Widodo states that efforts to mitigate the outbreak are to be led by the Covid-19 Task Force. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - President Joko Widodo has declared the Covid-19 outbreak in Indonesia a "non-natural national disaster" in a presidential decree.

"(This decree) declares the non-natural disaster caused by the spread of Covid-19 a national disaster," states the decree, which was issued on Monday (April 13).

The decree also states that efforts to mitigate the outbreak are to be led by the Covid-19 task force with the cooperation of regional administrations, ministries and national agencies.

"Governor, regents and mayors, as the leaders of the Covid-19 task force (in their respective regions), have to mind the central government's policies when making any policy," states the decree.

Some regions with a high number of cases have declared large-scale social restrictions (PSBB). They are Jakarta; the municipalities of Bogor, Depok and Bekasi; Bogor and Bekasi regencies; the municipalities of Tangerang and South Tangerang; and Tangerang regency and Pekanbaru municipality.

Nationally, the government has advised the public to stay at home and maintain distance in social interactions.

"The government will remain consistent with the PSBB policy, but the Covid-19 task force will have broader authority," National Disaster Mitigation Agency head Doni Monardo told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.

He added that the expanded authority would include ease of access to human resources, equipment and logistics mobilisation, immigration, customs and quarantine, permits, goods and services procurement, rescue, sector and agency command and money and goods management and accountability.

Dr Achmad Yurianto, the government's spokesman for Covid-19-related matters, told the Post on Tuesday that the declaration of a national emergency would not result in a shift of policy, adding that the government would strengthen its existing measures instead.

As of Monday, the pneumonia-like illness had infected 4,557 people in Indonesia and killed 399, with 380 recovering from the disease. Jakarta has become the epicentre of the outbreak, recording 2,186 cases with 204 fatalities and 142 recoveries.

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