Jakarta – The Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) has urged the government to cancel school reopening in January 2021 if the regional elections will go ahead as scheduled on Wednesday, citing concerns of COVID-19 transmission even if both events were conducted with health protocols.
"If the government still wants to hold the elections, then schools should not reopen in early January. That way, we can avoid [a possible] spread [of COVID-19] from the elections, long year-end holidays and school reopening," the IDI COVID-19 task force spokesperson Zubairi Djoerban said on Saturday as reported by kompas.com.
He added that the government should evaluate the upcoming three events and revise its policies to prevent further infections. "This is about people's lives. We need to take preventive measures before the situation gets worse," Zubairi said.
National COVID-19 task force spokesperson Wiku Adisasmito previously warned of potential new clusters emerging at schools after the central government gave regional administrations permission to resume on-campus learning in January 2021.
Wiku said in-classroom teaching could not be done instantaneously and should be carried out according to strict health protocols.
Meanwhile, Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) commissioner Rahmat Bagja said polling stations (TPS) would need to fulfill several health requirements to operate.
"Everyone – voters and poll station workers – must wear face masks. Every polling station will only accommodate a maximum of 500 voters," Bagja said on Friday.
He said every member of the local poll administrators (KPPS) must be in good health. The government will also provide swab tests for poll administrators and inspectors.
To avoid big crowds, voters will cast their vote according to a schedule.
"Every polling station must also disinfect the site [regularly] and provide hand-washing stations. Voters will be required to wash their hands before entering a polling station," Bagja said.
"Voters must maintain their distance and avoid shaking hands with others. They are also required to bring their own stationery [if needed] and have their temperature checked prior to entering the polling station," Bagdja said.
Voters with temperatures over 37.5 degrees Celsius are still allowed to vote but in a special booth in the station. "Those are our concerns. We hope there will be no [health protocol] violations," Bagja said.
Up to 270 regional administrations, comprising nine provinces, 224 regencies and 37 cities, will take part in the regional elections.
Indonesia set a new record in daily cases with 8,369 confirmed infections on Thursday. Meanwhile, on Saturday and Sunday, the country saw over 6,000 cases in a single day. As of Sunday, the country has recorded 575,796 cases, including 474,771 recoveries and 17,740 fatalities. (ami)