COVID-19: Indonesia bars people from hardest-hit regions in Iran, South Korea, Italy

first_imgPassengers entering Indonesia from the three countries — all of which have recorded thousands of COVID-19 cases, the most after China — are required to fill in a health alert card (HAC) issued by the Indonesian Health Ministry.Especially for Indonesian citizens, those who arrived in the archipelago from the aforementioned regions in Iran, South Korea and Italy, would be required to undergo additional medical examinations at the port of entry, Retno said. The policy will enter into force at midnight on Sunday, March 8, and will continue to be evaluated in accordance with global developments, Retno said.On Wednesday, the WHO recorded 2,223 new cases of COVID-19 infections worldwide and another 48 deaths outside China. The number of affected countries has reached 76, with Argentina, Chile, Poland and Ukraine having just reported their first cases of the virus.Topics : “Therefore, Indonesia is to temporarily impose a new policy for travelers from those countries,” she added. The policy will affect people who have a recent history of travel to Tehran, Qom and Gilan in Iran; Lombardi, Venetto, Emilia-Romagna, Marche and Piedmont regions in Italy; as well as Daegu and Gyeongsangbuk-do in South Korea.“Travelers from Iran, Italy and South Korea who come from outside of the aforementioned regions will need to provide a valid health certificate that is accredited and issued by the health authorities,” Retno said, adding that the document must be shown during check-in. “Without a health certificate, travelers will be denied entry or transit in Indonesia,” the minister went on. Indonesia announced on Thursday new travel restrictions for people with a history of travel from coronavirus-hit regions of Iran, South Korea and Italy in the wake of a significant surge of COVID-19 cases globally.The temporary ban, which will come into effect on Sunday, would prevent people who had visited certain regions in the three countries in the last 14 days from visiting or transiting in Indonesia, Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said.“After reviewing a report from the World Health Organization [WHO], there has been an increase of cases outside China, especially in three countries: Iran, Italy and South Korea,” Retno told journalists in her office on Thursday. last_img read more

BI injects $10.1b to stabilize bond markets as investors dump Indonesian assets

first_imgThe central bank pledged to work together with the government and the Financial Services Authority (OJK) to develop further measures to stabilize the country’s financial market. Perry said the current situation was different compared to the 1998 and 2008 financial crises as the it was faced by financial markets and investors around the globe.Read also: Investors question government’s transparency in handling COVID-19 crisis“Investors and market players dumped all their assets in stocks, bonds and gold and cashed them into dollars. All countries experienced the same thing, including Indonesia,” he added.Indonesia has recorded 308 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 25 deaths as of Thursday. Globally, the pneumonia-like illness has infected more than 244,000 people and claimed at least 10,000 lives.The central bank slashed its benchmark interest rate, the BI seven-day reverse repo rate, by 25 basis points to 4.50 percent following another cut last month to help spur the weakening economy.BI revised down on Thursday Indonesia’s economic growth projection to between 4.2 percent and 4.6 percent this year, which would be the lowest levels since 2005. That compares with last month’s projection of between 5 and 5.4 percent.It also announced measures to calm the market rout and stabilize the rupiah, including by intensifying bond-buying in the secondary market and cutting banks’ reserve ratio. Topics : Read also: BI cuts rate, sees growth plunging to 15-year low as COVID-19 roils economyBI data recorded Rp 105.1 trillion in capital outflow as of Thursday, of which foreign investors dumped Rp 92.8 trillion worth of government bonds and Rp 8.3 trillion in stocks.The rupiah has weakened more than 15 percent against the this year to Rp 16,172 per dollar as of 3:14 p.m. in Jakarta, a level unseen since the 1998 crisis. The Jakarta Composite Index (JCI), meanwhile, recorded more than Rp 10 trillion in foreign net sell so far this year as it lost around 33 percent of its value.“The majority of capital flight occurred in March in line with escalating COVID-19 infections in developing countries. This has resulted in investors dumping their assets and converting them into dollars,” Perry went on to say.center_img Bank Indonesia (BI) has bought about Rp 163 trillion (US$10.1 billion) worth of government bonds to stabilize the country’s financial market amid foreign investors’ selling spree over COVID-19 fears.In addition to the bonds purchase, the central bank also intervened in the foreign exchange spot market and domestic non-deliverables forward to ease pressures on the rupiah.“We are focused on maintaining confidence, ensuring the market mechanism to work properly and maintain liquidity in US dollars and the rupiah,” BI Governor Perry Warjiyo said after attending a limited Cabinet meeting on Friday.last_img read more

India’s migrant workers face long walk home amid coronavirus lockdown

first_imgAcross India, more than a dozen labourers Reuters spoke to returning home said they had been left with little choice other than to attempt to walk back to their home villages after work – and public transport – vanished.Mamata Banerjee, chief minister of the eastern state of West Bengal, wrote on Thursday to the heads of other Indian states, saying that manual workers were facing “an hour of crisis”.Vinod Hathila, 39, a manual worker in Surat, a city in the western state of Gujarat, left for his home town on Wednesday, walking for hours along railway tracks with his 15-year-old son until he found a bus.With no work, he said he doesn’t know how he will support his family during the lockdown.”I’ll probably borrow some money on interest from someone,” he said.Ashok Punjabi, who heads a construction workers’ union in Gujarat, said 60,000-70,000 people working as domestic helps and in other unorganized sectors in the Gujarati city of Ahmedabad, had headed to homes in neighboring Rajasthan after the 21-day lockdown was announced, many on foot and carrying their possessions.”To see young children and women being forced to walk hundreds of kilometers like this is just sad,” said Punjabi, who is also a senior opposition party member in the state.Kuldeep Arya, a senior official in the Gujarati state capital of Gandhinagar, said 4,000 people had been provided with food and water while trying to return home.There were similar scenes in India’s capital New Delhi, where hundreds of migrants walked down deserted highways to neighboring Uttar Pradesh this week.”For two days the ration guys were not giving us any food, we were hungry for two days. So we decided, ‘let us go to our parents’,” said Raju, a 24-year old migrant worker walking from Noida, a satellite town of Delhi, to Agra, nearly 200 km away.”Since there’s no transport available, we decided to walk all the way.” Topics : After India imposed a 21-day nationwide lockdown on Tuesday to prevent the spread of coronavirus, the plywood factory near Uttar Pradesh’s state capital Lucknow where Surendra Pandey works was forced to shut down.On Thursday morning, with no way of earning a living, the 28-year-old labor set off on a 110-kilometer walk back to his home village.”I tried catching a bus or truck yesterday, but there is no transport available on the road, so I decided to walk,” he told Reuters, some 30 km into his journey. “There is no food available on the roads but thankfully a few citizens offer us food, biscuits and water. It’s better to be home than to be here in the city without food and water.”Officials say the shutdown of all but essential services is necessary to beat coronavirus in the densely populated country of 1.3 billion people, with health infrastructure that can ill-afford a widespread outbreak. India has so far reported more than 600 confirmed cases of coronavirus and 13 deaths.India’s government announced on Thursday a $22.6 billion economic stimulus plan that provides direct cash transfers and food security.But for India’s estimated 120 million migrant labourers, the shutdown is a crisis, as wages dry up and many cannot afford the rent or even food in the cities.last_img read more

World Bank warns China growth could screech to a halt

first_imgWith two-fifths of the world’s population under some form of lockdown that’s caused the shuttering of businesses and a slowdown in transportation to try to contain the virus, the country where the outbreak originated may escape a recession but will nonetheless suffer a sharp slowdown.Read also: World Bank approves $300m loan to improve Indonesia’s financial sectorJust two months ago, the World Bank’s economists forecast China would grow by 5.9 percent this year, which would have been its worst performance since 1990.Now the world’s second-largest economy faces a more dire outlook, reflected in the record contraction in manufacturing activity in February and industrial production that fell for the first time in 30 years. The coronavirus pandemic’s economic fallout could cause China’s growth to come to a standstill while driving 11 million more people in East Asia into poverty, the World Bank warned Monday.The pandemic is causing “an unprecedented global shock, which could bring growth to a halt and could increase poverty across the region,” said Aaditya Mattoo, World Bank chief economist for East Asia and the Pacific.Even in the best-case scenario, the region will see a sharp drop in growth, with China’s expansion slowing to 2.3 percent from 6.1 percent in 2019, according to a report on the pandemic’s impact on the region. The East Asia and Pacific region, excluding China, could see growth slow to 1.3 percent in the baseline or contract 2.8 percent in the more pessimistic scenario as compared to 5.8 percent last year, the report said.”The pandemic is profoundly affecting the region’s economies, but the depth and duration of the shock are unusually uncertain,” the report said, noting the region already was unsettled by trade conflict with the United States.Read also: IMF, World Bank call for suspending debt payments by poorest nations”Containment of the pandemic would allow recovery, but the risk of durable financial stress is high even beyond 2020,” the World Bank warned. “Most vulnerable are countries that rely heavily on trade, tourism, and commodities; that are heavily indebted; and that rely on volatile financial flows.”Worsening povertyEven in the best case, marked by a sharp slowdown followed by a strong recovery, 24 million fewer people in the region will escape poverty, the report said.But an additional 11 million people could descend into poverty under the more negative outlook, where there is a severe economic contraction followed by a sluggish recovery.Mattoo said the 17 countries in the region key to global value chains and accounting for 70 percent of world trade “have all been affected” and now have some of the world’s highest numbers of COVID-19 cases.Read also: World Bank adds $2b to funds available for coronavirus response”In this interdependent world where our economic destinies are intertwined, there’s going to be mutual amplification, because the shock is simultaneously affecting all these important countries,” he told reporters.”That makes it particularly costly in economic terms.”The World Bank called for strong action, with the priority first on containment but also on measures to cushion the shock to households of lost wages. Mattoo said it is not too late to follow Korea’s example to ramp up testing and containment so that economies can begin to return to normal more quickly.”This is not rocket science. With help even poorer countries can do it.”Topics :last_img read more

“They just sedate them”: Coronavirus overwhelms Spain’s care homes

first_imgAs Spain struggles desperately to cope with more than 130,000 coronavirus infections, it barely has the strength to help its overwhelmed care homes and their elderly residents, singularly vulnerable to the respiratory disease.With hospitals stretched to breaking point, the elderly are being turned away, and the care homes, lacking staff and appropriate equipment, must do what they can for the sick and dying.”When they are very sick – not only here, in more than one place – … when they see there is no solution … they sedate them and see how long they last, because they’re leaving intensive care wards for younger people,” said Maria Jose Alvarez, whose 85-year-old mother is in a home near Barcelona. “It’s sad, it’s really sad. They don’t deserve this.”The home did not respond to requests for comment, but the local government in the area said half the home’s residents were in isolation. In addition, two-thirds of its workers had been sent home because of the virus, a picture that the UGT union says has been repeated across Spain.After Italy, Spain has the world’s second highest death toll, with over 12,000 fatalities as of Monday.Of a total of 3,000 deaths recorded at Madrid nursing homes in the past month, regional leader Isabel Diaz Ayuso said around 2,000 were likely to have been the result of coronavirus, though it was unclear how many of those appear in official figures due to a lack of testing. At one care home in the Madrid suburb of Leganes, 46 people have died since March 15.Like seven other private care homes in the area, it has been taken over by regional authorities.”Faced with an infection of this scale, we simply aren’t prepared,” said Antonio Morales, operations director with the owner, Vitalia Homes.He said at least 150 of the residents were likely to be infected – but that some hospitals had stopped admitting patients from care homes, forcing the residences to cope as best they could.A lack of testing kits was preventing staff confirming whether or not the patients had contracted the disease.And the few staff who are not ill or scared and still coming to work often have to contend with a lack of protective equipment such as masks and gloves, though supplies are beginning to filter through.”We’re a care home, not a hospital,” Morales said.Union leaders say many homes are failing to adhere to basic protocols such as separating healthy residents from those who have tested positive or have symptoms.Army units deployed to disinfect care homes across Spain have discovered unattended bodies, as staff lacked the resources to dispose of them properly.Official data released on Friday showed that care home residents accounted for around 40% of coronavirus deaths in the region of Castilla y Leon, and a quarter in neighboring Castilla La Mancha.In the northeasterly Catalonia region, authorities said on Thursday that 31% of care homes had residents with coronavirus symptoms, and that they had reported 511 deaths.center_img Topics :last_img read more

China pledges $30 million more for WHO’s coronavirus fight

first_imgThe donation aimed to support the global fight against COVID-19, in particular strengthening health systems in developing countries, she said, adding that China had already donated $20 million to the WHO on March 11.On Wednesday, WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said he hoped the Trump administration would reconsider its decision.”I hope the US believes that this an important investment, not just to help others, but for the US to stay safe also,” Tedros said during a virtual briefing.The United States contributed more than $400 million to the WHO in 2019, or roughly 15% of the organization’s budget. Topics : China said on Thursday it would donate a further $30 million to the World Health Organization (WHO), which is seeking more than $1 billion to fund its battle against the coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than 180,000 people worldwide.The pledge comes about a week after US President Donald Trump suspended funding to the WHO and accused the Geneva-based organization of promoting Chinese “disinformation” about the virus, which emerged in the central city of Wuhan last year.”At this crucial moment, supporting WHO is supporting multilateralism and global solidarity,” Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman of China’s foreign ministry, said on Twitter.last_img read more

Americans losing faith in what Trump says about the coronavirus: Poll

first_imgA majority of Americans said they were concerned about how the coronavirus is spreading, according to the poll, as the number of COVID-19 cases surpassed 1 million people in the United States this week, killing more than 56,000.Trump publicly mused about the benefits of “cleaning” COVID-19 patients on the insides with disinfectants or ultraviolet light during a news conference last week, directing health officials in the room to look into it.Medical experts immediately condemned the president’s suggestion, and the makers of disinfectant products warned the public against ingesting them. Trump later tried to portray his remarks as sarcasm, but given his popularity with some Americans, health officials expressed concern his remarks would persuade some people to poison themselves.Overall, Trump’s overall popularity has not changed much over the past week. Forty-three percent of Americans said they approve of his overall job performance, and the same number also approve of his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. Topics : Among registered voters, 44% said they would vote for Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, while 40% said they would back Trump if the election were held today.The Reuters/Ipsos poll was conducted online, in English, throughout the United States. It gathered responses from 1,001 adults, including 416 Democrats and 419 Republicans.center_img Americans appear to be losing faith in what President Donald Trump says about the coronavirus pandemic, with almost everyone rejecting Trump’s remark that COVID-19 may be treated by injecting infected people with bleach or other disinfectants, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Tuesday.The April 27-28 public opinion poll found that fewer than half of all adults in the US – 47% – said they were “very” or “somewhat” likely to follow recommendations Trump makes about the virus. That is 15 percentage points lower than the number who said they would follow Trump’s advice in a survey that ran at the end of March.And 98% of Americans said they would not try to inject themselves with bleach or other disinfectants if they got the coronavirus, including 98% of Democrats and 98% of Republicans. That is a near-unanimous rejection of an idea that Trump floated at a time of widespread anxiety about the virus.last_img read more

Tycoon leads initiative to tackle COVID-19 head-on

first_imgThe field hospital also has five isolation rooms equipped with 16 beds where COVID-19 patients could stay before being transferred to a government-run emergency facility in Wisma Atlet Kemayoran, Central Jakarta.The Artha Graha-run facility has conducted extensive rapid testing for members of the public. As of April 15, the facility had conducted 3,900 rapid tests.The field hospital has also dispatched medical workers to conduct rapid tests outside of Greater Jakarta, including in Kendal, Central Java; Cianjur, West Java; and Kubu Raya, West Kalimantan.”In this facility, we conduct tight screening on those who have a high or low potential of getting infected. We then conduct a rapid test and if they are found to be positive, we then take PCR and swab tests here as well,” said Ridwan Purwanto, a Navy doctor who now serves as head of the field hospital. While there are many private initiatives that are helping the government to deal with COVID-19 through donations, Artha Group tycoon Tomy Winata has taken the lead in an effort to directly fight the pandemic.His charitable foundation Artha Graha Peduli has opened a field hospital in North Jakarta dedicated to conducting rapid tests on targeted segments of society, in addition to providing beds and possible treatment for COVID-19 in the event of a spike in the number of patients requiring hospitalization.The field hospital, which is run by Artha Graha Peduli with support from numerous institutions and business entities including Buddha Tzu Chi Foundation, food giant Indofood and property giant Sinarmas, is manned by eight specialist doctors, 15 general practitioners, 34 nurses and 209 volunteers. The North Jakarta city administration has given its approval for the Artha Graha Peduli field hospital to serve as a facility that can handle COVID-19 patients. North Jakarta Mayor Sigit Wijatmoko issued credentials for the field hospital in early April during a ceremony at the facility.During a visit to the facility in late April, Coordinating Human Development and Culture Minister Muhadjir Effendy said the field hospital could serve as a back-up facility in the event a spike in COVID-19 cases leads to greater number of hospitalizations.Speaking on Saturday, Tomy said the initiative for setting up the hospital began in December, when news broke out from China that an illness caused by a virus started to infect people in Wuhan, China.It just so happened that Artha Graha Peduli would focus on health as its primary agenda for 2020. “You could say that we had marshaled our resources six months before the pandemic struck,” Tomy said.In January, when COVID-19 was still concentrated in Wuhan, Artha Graha Peduli ordered the construction of a quarantine facility on Sebaru Island, off the coast of North Jakarta, which the government later used to house 69 Indonesian crewmen who were airlifted from the coronavirus-stricken Diamond Princess cruise ship in Yokohama, Japan.Tomy said the field hospital and Artha Graha Peduli would be in it for the long-haul.”Even after we have a vaccine, it will be another three years before life can get back to normal. We have to manage our lives to live with COVID-19,” Tomy said.Topics :last_img read more

Pandemic no match for Indonesia’s door-to-door teachers

first_img“No one’s forcing me to do this — it’s something inside telling me to do it,” the 57-year-old told AFP.”I feel a bit guilty about breaking [orders] to hold online classes, but the reality is that it isn’t easy here.”The only solution is to be close to students with door-to-door teaching,” he added.Suroto is one of a small number of teachers taking on dangerous terrain, bad weather and the chance of contracting the novel coronavirus, to reach home-bound students across the world’s fourth-most populous nation, home to a quarter of billion people. Topics : Nearly 70 million children and young people have been affected by school shutdowns which started in mid-March.While the pandemic has sparked a boom in online learning, especially in wealthy nations, about one-third of Indonesia’s nearly 270 million people don’t have access to the Internet or even, in some cases, electricity. Call to teachAs Indonesian authorities consider reopening schools, critics warn it is too early as the nation’s virus curve has yet to flatten.Officially, the country has more than 35,000 cases of COVID-19 and 2,000 deaths. But with one of the world’s lowest testing rates, Indonesia’s real toll is widely believed to be much higher.And the country’s pediatric association has warned that malnutrition and mosquito-borne dengue fever may be putting children at a greater risk of dying from the respiratory illness. Nearly 18 percent of Indonesian children under five years old suffer from nutritional deficiencies, while kids aged five to 14 make up nearly 42 percent of dengue fever patients, according to health ministry data. The risk was highlighted in April when an 11-year-old girl with dengue fever, which itself can be fatal, died after contracting COVID-19. Health authorities said the pre-existing illness could have exacerbated the effect of the virus on her weakened immune system.Still, getting back to school can’t come fast enough for some students.”I’m bored at home. I miss the school and all my friends and teachers,” said Gratia Ratna Febriani, a pupil in Kenalan village.That feeling struck a chord with junior high school teacher Yunedi Sepdiana Sine who says she will keep answering the call to visit some 50 children a week.”Students really miss their teachers so I feel needed,” she said.”And that’s what makes me content.” ‘Can’t help them’ Meanwhile, many rural parents struggle to fill the gap as they juggle often low-paid jobs and child care.”I can only remind [the kids] to study because I can’t help them like a teacher can,” said Orlin Giri, a mother from East Nusa Tenggara, one of Indonesia’s poorest regions.”And we don’t have enough money for an Internet plan,” she added.That is a common story nationwide, said Fina, a teacher on Borneo island.”Many parents only graduated from elementary school or junior high school — or they didn’t even go to school,” she said.”Just being able to send their children to school is an extraordinary achievement.”Fina, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, opted not to visit students as she has a baby and lives in an area with a high infection rate.”But this pandemic has taught us that, while technology is good and very helpful, it so far cannot replace the presence of teachers,” she said. ‘Feet on the street’Suroto and other Indonesian teachers say they wear face masks, but the threats of becoming sick or infecting students are ever-present.Avan Fathurrahman, an elementary school instructor on East Java’s Madura island, visits up to 11 students a day, an experience he wrote about in now-viral Facebook posts.He admits to being scared of getting ill.”But my fears were overcome by the call to teach,” Fathurrahman said.”I would not be comfortable staying at home knowing that my students couldn’t study properly.”Aside from government calls for online learning, educational programs are being aired on a state-owned TV channel.Education minister Nadiem Makarim — a co-founder of local ride-hailing app GoJek — has acknowledged the challenges in remote learning, however, and even expressed shock at how many rural Indonesians lacked Internet service.”We have to rely on the feet on the street — the actual teachers that mobilize themselves to teach door to door,” he said last month.The pandemic has underscored huge challenges in updating creaky infrastructure across the nearly 5,000 kilometer Southeast Asian archipelago — a key priority for president Joko Widodo.”Infrastructure-wise, Indonesia is not fully ready for online learning,” said Christina Kristiyani, an education expert at Sanata Dharma University. “Even if it was possible to do real-time video conferencing, it costs too much in rural areas,” she added. Teacher Henrikus Suroto vowed his students wouldn’t be cheated out of their education when the global pandemic forced schools to be closed in Indonesia’s remote Kenalan village.So he braves windy mountain roads and sheer cliff drops to visit the poor farming community in Central Java, where online classes are out of the question due to a lack of Internet service — a luxury few parents could afford anyway.Not only is Suroto risking death or serious illness from COVID-19, he is violating government orders not to hold in-person classes to prevent the spread of the disease.last_img read more

US vows to curb China and Russia in space

first_imgIn 2018, President Vladimir Putin boasted that the Sarmat was one of the new Russian weapons that could render NATO defenses obsolete.The US, which is reviving its space exploration program, recently celebrated its first crewed spacecraft flight in nearly a decade, sending two astronauts to the International Space Station in a privately-built capsule.The strategy document underlined that the US would “promote burden-sharing with our allies and partners.” The United States wants to prevent China and Russia from taking control of space and will look to allies for help, according to a new “Defense Space Strategy” unveiled by the Pentagon on Wednesday.The strategy document was the first since President Donald Trump announced the creation of the new Space Force military arm in December.”China and Russia present the greatest strategic threat due to their development, testing, and deployment of counterspace capabilities,” it said. “China and Russia each have weaponized space as a means to reduce US and allied military effectiveness and challenge our freedom of operation in space.”The strategy stressed that the US would strive to maintain superiority in space, in particular protecting GPS satellites on which the military as well as the emergency services, transport and even financial services depend.China is investing billions of dollars in space and puts many satellites in orbit. In 2007, Beijing also successfully tested a surface-to-air missile strike against a satellite, according to the Pentagon.Russia plans a test launch of its Angara heavy carrier rocket later this year, and is pressing ahead with the development of its new intercontinental ballistic missile, the Sarmat.center_img Topics :last_img read more