Jakarta – The government is set to allow people under 45 years old to work outside their homes so as to prevent more people from being laid off amid mobility restrictions in place to curb the novel coronavirus spread.
Indonesia's COVID-19 task force head, Doni Monardo, said on Monday that the people under the age of 45, whom he said were less vulnerable to suffer from severe COVID-19 cases, would be given the green light to carry out their activities outside to make ends meet.
"The young population under 45 years old are physically healthy and they have high mobility," Doni said, "If they are exposed [to the coronavirus], they might not get sick because they show no symptoms."
Those in the age group had the lowest coronavirus fatality rate with 15 percent, Doni said.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 patients above 60 years of age had an alarmingly high fatality rate of 45 percent, followed by patients aged 46 to 59, with a fatality rate of 40 percent. Both groups were considered more vulnerable to the disease, he went on to say.
"If we can protect both vulnerable groups, it means that we can protect 85 percent of our citizens," Doni said, adding that those considered to be more at risk should maintain physical distancing and stay at home instead.
Those under 45 years old will be allowed to resume activities outside, albeit by taking into account the health protocols, such as wearing masks and washing hands frequently.
"This aims to maintain a balance. [We want them] to be protected from the virus, as well as from the termination of employment," he said as quoted by kompas.com.
The COVID-19 outbreak has hit the country's economy and businesses, affecting millions of workers as mobility restrictions have been imposed to clamp down on COVID-19 transmission.
At least 2.8 million people have lost their jobs as of April 13, according to data from the Manpower Ministry and the Workers Social Security Agency (BPJS Ketenagakerjaan). More than half were furloughed and place on paid or unpaid leave.
The plan to give more opportunities for those aged 45 and younger to work outside their homes come as the central government mulls over the possibility of easing travel restrictions and gradually lifting social restrictions in June, prompting experts to warn that the war against COVID-19 is far from over.
The delayed results of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests and the nation's low testing capacity have made it difficult to capture the true scale of the epidemic, analysts warned as they called for authorities to carry out further epidemiological studies before deciding to relax the curbs.
The government has since March 15 called for all people to practice physical-distancing measures by working, studying and worshiping from home to contain the spread of the deadly coronavirus. Some regions, including Jakarta, have imposed stronger measures by implementing large-scale social distancing restrictions.
As of Monday, Indonesia recorded 14,265 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 991 fatalities, according to the central government's official count. (vny)