Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has called for the close supervision of numerous potential new coronavirus (COVID-19) clusters in a bid to contain further spread of the disease.
In a virtual limited meeting at the Bogor Presidential Palace on Monday (4 May), the president named some of the potential new clusters, including industrial clusters, mudik clusters and migrant worker clusters.
63 workers at Sampoerna cigarette factory in Surabaya tested positive for COVID-19
East Java’s capital Surabaya has seen the surge in the numbers of COVID-19 cases after 63 workers out of 123 at the Sampoerna cigarette factory who underwent swab tests were confirmed to have COVID-19 as of Sunday (4 May), Kompas wrote.
The increase in the numbers of COVID-19 cases in the Sampoerna factory began when two workers declared as a patient under observation (PDP) died on 14 April, leading to the tracing of the deceased workers’ close contacts.
Both workers continued to work even though they had to be in quarantine, Surabaya Mayor Tri Rismaharini revealed last Thursday (30 April).
24 confirmed COVID-19 cases found at Simustika cigarette factory in Tulungagung
Besides Sampoerna, COVID-19 cases were also discovered at a traditional cigarette (kretek) factory Simustika in East Java’s Tulungagung.
Head of East Java’s COVID-19 Task Force, Dr Kohar Hari Santoso, said that 24 out of 246 workers at the factory were tested positive based on the rapid test. He added that they will also undergo swab tests.
The Ijtima Ulama event in Gowa, South Sulawesi
One of the new clusters, called the Gowa cluster, was traced to a religious gathering called the Ijtima Ulama Asia, which was supposed to be held in one of the districts in South Sulawesi before it was cancelled.
The first COVID-19 case in Gorontalo was from the Gowa cluster, Gorontalo Governor Rusli Habibie confirmed on 10 April.
However, the governor felt that the first patient had kept his condition a secret.
As many as six residents of Pekalongan, Central Java, who attended the event were also found to be COVID-19 positive despite showing no symptoms, Kompas wrote on 30 April.
“We will trace whoever has contacts with them. We will test them too,” the Pekalongan City Administration stated.
Migrant workers should not be stigmatized as virus carriers, says NGO
President Joko Widodo also noted that more than 100,000 Indonesian migrant workers will return to Indonesia due to the restrictions on movement imposed in other countries, including neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore.
“We should monitor this situation thoroughly. Based on the report I received, 89,000 migrant workers have returned, and there will be 16,000 more,” said Mr Widodo.
However, MIGRANT CARE, an Indonesian non-profit organization providing support for migrant workers, warned that the president’s statement should not be taken as proof that all returning migrant workers are carriers of the virus, who will then infect their families.
“For Indonesian migrant workers returning home with symptoms and categorised as patients under observation, the central government must provide a place for quarantine and hospital in compliance with the World Health Organization (WHO) standard. The state should pay for the treatment,” MIGRANT CARE executive director Wahyu Susilo told Kumparan.
Neighbouring Singapore has seen a sharp increase in the numbers of confirmed COVID-19 cases, following clusters in crowded migrant worker dormitories, leading to over 16,000 cases so far.