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Home minister suggests getting tested before traveling ahead of long weekend

Jakarta Post - October 20, 2020

Jakarta – Home Minister Tito Karnavian has warned of the potential emergence of COVID-19 clusters as people take collective leave at the end of October and suggests people get tested beforehand.

"People should make sure they [test] negative for COVID-19. Don't let us infect our family members, parents and others," he said Monday as quoted by tempo.co.

The government has set Oct. 28 and Oct. 30 as collective leave days for Prophet Muhammad's Birthday, which falls on Oct. 29.

"Usually during a long public holiday, people travel or return to their hometowns, gather with family or visit tourist sites," Tito said, adding that such high mobility posed a risk of increasing COVID-19 transmission.

He advised against traveling to other regions and visiting popular tourist destinations to prevent further transmission of the deadly coronavirus, especially for those in areas deemed as high risk for COVID-19 transmission.

"Based on our experience, long weekends usually entail high mobility [...] potentially triggering [COVID-19] transmission," Tito said following a meeting with President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Monday.

President Jokowi has also urged all relevant stakeholders to take anticipatory measures amid concerns over a possible spike in COVID-19 cases across the country throughout the long stretch of public holidays later this month.

Jokowi said the upcoming long weekend could potentially lead to an increase in COVID-19 transmission, given that people often traveled out of town.

"We experienced a moderate spike [in COVID-19 cases] half a month ago following long weekends," he told Cabinet members during a meeting at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Monday.

The President referenced the record-high 1,114 new COVID-19 cases reported in Jakarta following the long weekends for Independence Day (Aug. 15 to 17) and Islamic New Year (Aug. 20 to 23). According to Jokowi, the country's average rate of active COVID-19 cases stood at 17.69 percent as of Sunday – lower than the global average of 22.54 percent. "I believe we need to keep improving [the active case rate] to see a downtrend in COVID-19 cases in Indonesia," he added.

Early this month, 10 people who took part in a water park tour tested positive for COVID-19 in Temanggung regency, Central Java, with one of them succumbing to the disease.

The group of people came from Temanggung, located 70 kilometers from the water park in Banjarnegara regency, Central Java.

In addition to the infection cluster from the water park, Temanggung also saw a cluster form after a group of people traveled to Cirebon, West Java, for a wedding reception. (iwa)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/10/20/home-minister-suggests-getting-tested-before-traveling-ahead-of-long-weekend.html