Many Indonesians don't believe Covid-19 exists, says govt as it forms 'behavioural change' units to raise awareness

At least five behavioural change units consisting of a total of 100 volunteers have been deployed. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - A recent survey by Indonesia's Health Ministry has found that many Indonesians do not believe that Covid-19 exists and that many have challenged the call to adhere to health protocols, the national Covid-19 task force has said.

In response, the task force has formed so-called "behavioural change" units. They consist of members of the community, the military and local administrations, and seek to raise public awareness about the dangers of Covid-19.

National Covid-19 task force chief Doni Monardo said the initiative would be tested first in Jakarta, a hotbed of coronavirus contagion, before being brought to other regions.

At least five behavioural change units consisting of a total of 100 volunteers have been deployed in five sub-districts of the capital to inform people about the virus and reinforce the need to adhere to health protocols.

"If the initiative works, we will develop it in other regions as well," Lieutenant-General Doni said during a meeting with the House of Representatives on Tuesday (Sept 22).

"Covid-19 is real and has claimed nearly a million of lives globally," Lt-Gen Doni said, but he did not reveal the details of the Health Ministry survey he had cited during the meeting.

Indonesia has recorded nearly 10,000 fatalities and 252,923 total cases as at Tuesday.

"If some people deny the presence of Covid-19 (and neglect health measures), transmission will continue," Lt-Gen Doni said.

Some Indonesian citizens, including public figures, have endorsed conspiracy theories about the pandemic.

Bali-based musician Jerinx, for example, claimed that the recorded number of Covid-19 infections was being manipulated to be larger than it actually was.

He has also ignored the authorities' calls for social distancing and mask wearing, including while participating in a rally in late July to protest against Covid-19 testing requirements for travel to Bali.

Bali police have named the musician a suspect for defamation after he accused the Indonesian Medical Association of being "the World Health Organisation's flunkey" for mandating that women preparing to give birth be tested for Covid-19.

Join ST's Telegram channel and get the latest breaking news delivered to you.