Asia

Indonesia reports record coronavirus deaths ahead of Hari Raya Haji

JAKARTA – Indonesia reported record-high coronavirus deaths on Monday (July 19) as the world’s fourth most populous country decides whether to extend an ongoing partial lockdown due to end on Tuesday (July 20).

A total of 1,338 Covid-19 patients died in the past 24 hours, bringing total deaths to 74,920 since the pandemic began. New infections totalled 34,257 on Monday, the lowest in the past two weeks.

The number of tests on Monday was 160,000, lower than the more than 200,000 daily average. The country has a total of 2.91 million cases.

The record daily death toll comes as the country – which has the world’s largest Muslim population – celebrates Hari Raya Haji on Tuesday, when Muslims gather for the annual sharing of meat from sacrificial cows and sheep for the poor and needy.

For this year’s Hari Raya Haji, the government has banned congregational prayers in cities and regencies covered by the partial lockdown, which covers most parts of Java and Bali, and 15 other locations elsewhere in the country.

The cow and lamb meat should not be handed over at the slaughter sites, but instead must be delivered to recipients’ homes, to prevent queueing, according to newly issued government guidelines.

Under the emergency restrictions, which began on July 3 and are due to end on Tuesday, grocery stores and supermarkets on Java and Bali islands, which account for two-thirds of Covid-19 cases nationwide, are to limit customers to half their capacity and close by 8pm.

Public places, such as shopping malls, parks and places of worship, have been ordered to close, and eateries can provide only takeaway service or deliveries.

The partial lockdown was expanded to 15 regencies and cities outside Java and Bali on July 12.

Java is Indonesia’s most populous island, with 151.6 million people, or 56.1 per cent of the country’s 270 million population, while Bali has 4.3 million people.

The partial lockdown has devastated the livelihoods of informal and daily-wage workers, as well as small-time traders.

Protests against the lockdowns have emerged in several cities.

On July 15, hundreds of high school students staged a rally on a main street in Pasuruan, East Java, to protest against the partial lockdown.

Some of the students hurled stones at police officers who tried to disperse them. Others vandalised a police station. Many of the students detained by police after the rally said they gathered in response to an invitation on social media to hold a rally.

In Cirebon, West Java, university students who planned to take to the streets to hold a similar rally on Monday (July 19) cancelled the plan and agreed to voice their concerns and aspirations via a virtual dialogue.

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