Doni Monardo, the chief of Indonesia's COVID-19 task force, is strongly rebuking those who are considering going back to their hometowns for the upcoming Eid holidays amid the raging pandemic, warning that they could be indirectly killing their own parents.
The annual homecoming exodus tradition known as mudik usually saw tens of millions of Indonesians visiting their hometowns annually before the public health crisis. This year, in a bid to reduce potential coronavirus transmissions, the government is set to ban the tradition starting from May 6 to 17.
A survey conducted by the Transportation Ministry in March found that about 11 percent of the population, which translates to nearly 28 million people, still intends to go on mudik despite the ban.
Doni emphasized this week that there's no guarantee that mudik travelers can avoid contracting COVID-19, even if they tested negative for the disease, especially when the risk of transmission is even higher during the trip.
He went on to explain that if a traveler was infected by the coronavirus on their way to their hometown, they would be a carrier with a high potential of infecting their family members back home.
"In kampung [hometown or village], there might be no hospitals, doctors, or even good health facilities," Doni said during a COVID-19 handling coordination meeting in Banda Aceh yesterday, as quoted in a statement.
"What does that mean? The traveler concerned would be indirectly killing their parents."
Following last year's Eid holiday, Indonesia saw a 93 percent spike in COVID-19 cases, Doni said, while the weekly fatality rate increased to 66 percent. The country has seen a pattern of high case spikes following long weekends or national holidays in the past year.
Despite mudik being banned for 12 days next month, the Transportation Ministry recently said that there will not be any sanctions for those going on mudik outside of the aforementioned period.