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Involving local leaders key to successful COVID-19 education in NTT regency

Jakarta Post - October 14, 2020

Jakarta – Malaka regency in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) is among those areas that have been relative successful in promoting the government's "3M" health protocols comprising wearing masks, washing hands with soap and maintaining physical distancing.

In a video uploaded on Monday to the YouTube channel of the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB), BNPB Indonesia, journalist Frans Pati Herin of Kompas said that he had seen people following the health protocols, even in remote areas.

During his visit to Manuela village, located 256 kilometers from the NTT capital of Kupang, he encountered a woman in her 60s who wore a mask while she was out walking alone.

Frans recounted that the woman said that she always wore a mask whenever she went outside, and told him that she had learned about COVID-19 and the 3M protocols from the local administration and her local church.

The head of the Malaka Disaster Mitigation Agency (BPBD Malaka), Gabriel Seran, said the agency had been collaborating with various organizations, including religious communities, to educate the public about the coronavirus since the beginning of the Indonesian outbreak in early March.

Gabriel said that the local administration had asked for the agency's help in curbing the spread of COVID-19 in the regency, which prompted the Malaka BPBD to from its COVID-19 task force. The task force then invited all relevant parties, such as government agencies, religious communities and the military, to contribute to raising public awareness about COVID-19.

"The ability to fight COVID-19 is in the hands of the people," he said, stressing that the task force tried to disseminate correct and accurate information about the virus and the disease at all administrative levels, from villages to districts and on up to the regency level.

"We also asked religious leaders [to inform their congregation] at religious forums," he added.

Father Edmundus Sako of the Malaka diaconate said that the Catholic Church was adhering to the government's health and safety protocols. He added that the church was also working with other institutions to teach the people of Malaka about COVID-19.

"As the deacon of and the head of the FKUB in Malaka, I always discuss this matter with [other members]," he said, referring to the Religious Communication Forum.

Despite the surge in COVID-19 cases around the globe, a survey by Statistics Indonesia (BPS) has found that 17 percent of Indonesians believe it "impossible" that they would contract the disease.

"It is a huge number," national COVID-19 task force chief Doni Monardo said during a virtual event on Friday. He said that given the country's population of 270 million, this meant that 44.9 million people believed they would not be infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease.

Doni stressed that the lack of public awareness was a contributing factor to the continuing spread of the disease in the country.

"There are still many people who have yet to receive [complete] information about COVID-19," he said. (jes)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/10/14/involving-local-leaders-key-to-successful-covid-19-education-in-ntt-regency.html