JAKARTA (Reuters) – Indonesia’s capital city will close all schools and order remote teaching for at least two weeks to curb the spread of coronavirus, Jakarta’s governor said on Saturday, as the first cases were also reported in other parts of the archipelago.
Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, reported 27 more coronavirus cases, bringing the total confirmed infections to 96, Achmad Yurianto, a health ministry official said.
The number of deaths rose to five, Yurianto said.
While most cases have been clustered in Jakarta, cases were also reported in cities in western and central Java, Manado on Sulawesi island and Pontianak on Borneo island.
“We must massively, in an integrated way and without panic, search and find, and isolate positive cases,” Yurianto said, adding authorities were also shifting to “a community-based approach” to prevent healthy people from getting sick.
Doni Monardo, who leads Indonesia’s task force on coronavirus, said testing will be increased and struggling medical staff will be assisted by medical students and volunteers.
JAKARTA SCHOOLS CLOSE
As he announced school closures, Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said cases had been detected in many parts of the city of 10 million people.
“What must be done right now is to reduce interactions between residents,” Baswedan said, urging people to stay at home and not travel unless necessary.
“Children, based on data, not many of them have been infected with COVID-19, but they are carriers and they spread the virus from one adult to another,” he told a news conference.
Doctors and nurses had been under strain trying to treat patients and some of them had been infected, Baswedan said.
Museums, parks and zoos would also close for two weeks.
The city of Solo in central Java has also announced school closures.
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Indonesia confirmed its first cases of the virus only last week while some countries in the region had reported scores of cases far earlier, raising concerns among medical experts about infections either not being reported or going undetected.
The central government has faced criticism for withholding information regarding the spread of the virus.
Neighbouring Australia has advised its citizens to reconsider overseas travel plans including to Indonesia, citing a growing risk of transmission in the country and limited availability of testing and infection control facilities.
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