Papua’s Asmat shut off following eight confirmed covid-19 cases

Asmat fisherman
A resident of Asmat regency walks home after catching fish for his family in Papua, Indonesia. Image: Priadi Saptono/Jakpost

Pacific Media Centre Newsdesk

Asmat regency in Papua has decided to limit access to and from the area for 28 days, starting last Sunday, after eight people in the regency’s capital Agats tested positive for covid-19 on Saturday, reports The Jakarta Post.

Acting Asmat regent Triwarno Purnomo said the administration would only allow ships carrying staple supplies to enter Asmat during the restriction.

However, Pelni ships carrying passengers are prohibited from entering, while air transportation activities are only available for emergencies.

Besides access limitation, Asmat has also applied a curfew, with business activities now only allowed to run between 6 am and 6 pm local time, while previously they were allowed until 9 pm.

“We also halt educational and religious activities, while limiting office hours until 2 p.m. Moreover, only five people are allowed to be in each office site [on a daily basis],” said Triwarno. reported on Sunday that the eight people had mild symptoms and were under self-isolation in their respective houses.

According to the Asmat covid-19 task force, the five infected people worked as healthcare workers at Agats Regional General Hospital (RSUD) and a community health center (Puskesmas). As a result, the RSUD had to temporarily shut down its outpatient care unit due to the transmission cases.

Previously a green zone
Previously, Asmat was a covid-19 green zone. An area is considered a green zone when it is no longer recording any cases.

With the latest development, Asmat, along with 20 other regencies and a city, are categorized as red zones.

According to the Asmat Health Agency, the regency only has 25 doctors that are stationed in 13 Puskesmas, out of a total 17 in the area. The regency has no pulmonologist.

“We’re pushing for strict implementation of COVID-19 health protocols in the hospitals and all Puskesmas in order to protect our healthcare workers, who are very limited in number,” said Purnomo.

Asmat Health Agency head Richard Mirino said having the virus spreading in the area was a risky situation for the regency due to its limited health facilities and healthcare workers as well as challenging geographic condition and its residents’ low awareness of living healthily.

Mirino referred to a measles outbreak in Asmat in 2018, which infected 670 children, 80 of whom died.

Papua covid-19 task force head Welliam Manderi said the provincial administration would issue a circular, ordering all parties to increase the implementation of health protocols at each regency and city’s gates.

Manderi admitted that the number of confirmed cases on a daily basis was still higher than the number of recovered cases over the past month.

  • As of Monday, Papua had recorded a total of 8239 confirmed covid-19 cases, 4438 recovered cases and 117 deaths, reports The Jakarta Post.
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