New Covid-19 cases emerge in Jakarta in the wake of mass gatherings

2,500 antigen swabs have been distributed to areas with a high risk of transmissions, such as Jakarta, Banten and West Java. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - New Covid-19 cases have been recorded following a series of mass gatherings centred around the return of Islam Defenders Front (FPI) leader Rizieq Shihab from self-exile in Saudi Arabia on Nov 10.

Data received by the national Covid-19 task force on Thursday (Nov 19) revealed that seven out 15 people who had taken swab tests in Petamburan, Central Jakarta, turned out to be positive for the disease. The FPI's headquarters is located in Petamburan, Central Jakarta.

"We have tested 15 people in Petamburan, including the subdistrict head," national Covid-19 task force chief Doni Monardo was quoted by as saying on Friday.

On Friday evening, the results of the antigen swab tests for the Megamendung cluster in Bogor regency, West Java, revealed that out of 559 people, 20 were infected. Another report also showed that 50 people in Tebet, South Jakarta, had contracted Covid-19.

Mr Doni urged community unit (RT) and neighbourhood unit (RW) heads to cooperate and remind residents to report themselves if they had also participated in the parades to greet Rizieq.

"(If you participated in the parades) please report yourself to the RT or RW heads and get yourself tested at a community health centre," Mr Doni said.

He added that the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) had already distributed 2,500 antigen swabs to community health centres (Puskesmas) at areas with a high risk of transmissions, such as Jakarta, Banten and West Java.

Rizieq, who returned to Indonesia after spending about three years in Saudi Arabia, was slapped with a 50 million rupiah (S$4,736) fine for disregarding Covid-19 health protocols by not limiting the number of guests attending his daughter's wedding on Nov 14.

His arrival in Indonesia also sparked a public uproar because of a parade organised by his followers, which was attended by thousands of people.

In light of the controversial mass gatherings, Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD has urged the Jakarta administration to strengthen its prevailing health protocols amid concerns of a possible spike in Covid-19 cases.

Mr Mahmud also claimed that the government had already instructed Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan to remind event organisers to comply with the Covid-19 protocols ahead of the wedding.

"The government actually reminded the Jakarta governor to ask the event organisers to ensure compliance with the health protocols," Mr Mahfud said. "The enforcement of health protocols in Jakarta is the responsibility of the capital city's administration, in accordance with the power hierarchy and the law."

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