Three districts in the East Java province of Indonesia will be implementing large-scale social distancing, on the heels of capital city Jakarta’s move to carry out what is locally known as pembatasan sosial berskala besar (PSBB).
Indonesia’s Ministry of Health on Tuesday (21 April) said that the city of Surabaya, as well as neighbouring districts of Sidoarjo and Gresik, will be adopting stricter health protocols to curb the spread of COVID-19.
The decision to implement PSBB came after a meeting between Khofifah Tegistha Indar Parawansa — the provincial governor of East Java — and the administrations of Gresik District, Sidoarjo District, and Surabaya City last Sunday (19 April), CNN Indonesia reported.
East Java has recorded 590 confirmed cases, with 98 cases in recovery and 56 deaths as of Monday (20 April).
This means the province’s number of COVID-19 cases is the third highest in the country after Jakarta and West Java.
After the ministry’s approval, each regional government must disseminate information on the PSBB. So far, no fixed date yet has been announced on when the PSBB will be applied.
Surabaya has the highest numbers of COVID-19 positive patients.
Khofifah said that all 31 sub-districts in Surabaya have been infected, bringing the city’s total number of COVID-19 patients to 299 as of Monday (20 April), official data showed.
Sidoarjo District has recorded 57 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Gresik District.
The East Java Police disclosed the map of COVID-19 spread in Surabaya. It revealed that the first COVID-19-infected individual was in north Surabaya and the person had infected people 50 meters from the location.
From the northern part of the city, the infection then has spread to South Surabaya, particularly in Wonokromo Subdistrict, said East Java Police Chief Luki Hermawan, KompasTV reported Thursday (16 April).
How prepared is the province?
Rita Puspitasari, a Surabaya-based freelance writer, told a TOC correspondent in Jakarta that northern Surabaya is the most densely populated area in East Java as it is the hub of economic activity.
She added that the Tanjung Perak seaport, one of the busiest seaports in Indonesia, is located in north Surabaya.
She hoped that the PSBB will soon take effect to contain the COVID-19 infection after the reopening of the Surabaya Wholesale Center (PGS), following a 14-day closure due to a positive case found there.
Despite the government’s official ban on ‘mudik’ — the yearly exodus of Muslims living and working in Jakarta to their respective hometowns on the eve of Eid Day — many commuters have ignored such a warning.
“There is information that a COVID-19 infected patient in the fish auction centre decided to return to his hometown in Blitar … Of course, it raises our concern that more people in rural areas will be infected from their family members who return home,” Puspitasari stated.
Puspitasari, who was born in East Java’s Trenggalek, told the TOC correspondent that anyone entering her hometown must be placed in quarantine for 14 days.
“If some people refuse to self-isolate, the village chief will scold us. Every individual coming to Trenggalek must be quarantined. All the elementary school buildings have been converted into isolation centre,” the 33-year-old freelancer added.
Several regions in Indonesia such as Jakarta, West Java, Banten, and Riau have imposed PSBB for 14 days.
PSBB orders the closure of schools, entertainment centres, and non-essential business sectors. Public transportation services still carry passengers with limited capacity and restricted hours.