Indonesian police on Tue (7 Apr) launched a safety operation aimed at containing the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), in which they used a drone to scan the body temperature of motorists, particularly that of motorcycle taxi — known as ojek — drivers.
ANTARA News reported that the operation was conducted jointly with the Traffic Directorate of Metro Jaya Regional Police Department in the area of Senayan, located in the capital city of Jakarta.
If their body temperature is found to be above 37 degrees Celcius, police officers will direct them to the nearest healthcare facility for medical examination.
The drone is equipped with a sound system which will call upon all residents to stay at home, except for the purpose of obtaining essential services such as utilities, banking, telecommunications, healthcare, and groceries.
Inspector-General Istiono, Chief of the Traffic Corps of the Indonesia National Police (Polri), said on Mon (6 Apr) that the safety operation “lays greater emphasis on preventive efforts”.
“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have launched the operation by prioritizing public safety to protect against the dangers of COVID-19 by currently employing a drone,” said Istiono.
In addition to the use of drones to detect motorists’ body temperature, Jakarta has begun putting in place large-scale social distancing measures today until 19 Apr.
Under the policy, the Jakarta administration restricts activities in public areas. Employers must apply a work-from-home policy until April 19. Ojek riders are still allowed to carry goods but not passengers.
Previously on 2 Apr, police in Cimahi, West Java, deployed a thermal drone to disperse crowds, CNN Indonesia reported.
Authorities have also been using drones to spray disinfecting agents over populous areas in Indonesia
Other than using drones to check the body temperature of motorists, authorities in Indonesia have also deployed the devices for other purposes such as delivering aids and spraying disinfecting agents over populous areas.
The Yogyakarta Administration and several communities such as the Remote Pilot of Indonesia Aerosport Federation (FASI) on 20 Mar deployed a drone to spray disinfectant in the bustling Malioboro area.
Jakarta followed suit a week later by spraying disinfectant in the capital’s financial zones such as SCBD (Sudirman Central Business District) on 27 Mar.
Spraying disinfectant is one of the most common methods of curbing the spread of COVID-19 in Indonesia as seen in the most populous areas across the nation such as Jakarta, Bali and East Java.
Infectious diseases expert and Singapore Democratic Party chairman Paul Tambyah, however, told Reuters that while spraying disinfectants on a mass scale “is probably a cheap and visible way” of curbing the spread of the virus, paying “careful attention to personal and environmental hygiene is probably more effective”.
Washing hands regularly and cleaning specific items prone to the virus are the better ways to tackle the widespread of the COVID-19, Dr Tambyah added.
As of today, the numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia had reached 2,738, with 221 deaths and 204 cases in recovery.
Indonesia’s authorities on Mon ordered residents to wear face masks to minimise the spread of the virus, on top of other measures.