Health officials detect 83 covid-19 cases at controversial Papuan Games

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ndonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin
Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin ... "The President has urged the athletes to be quarantined at their hometowns." Image: Desi Purnamawati/Antara

By Desi Purnamawati and Uyu Liman in Jakarta

Eighty-three covid-19 cases have been reported during the Indonesian National Games (PON-XX) being held in Papua as of yesterday afternoon, says Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin.

He said evaluation of the Games would improve public health protocols in future.

“The 83 cases are concentrated among the participants competing in several sports — judo, archery, roller skating, cricket and motocross — as well as originating from a number of provinces (Jakarta, East Java, Central Java and Bali)” Sadikin told an online media conference on community activity restrictions (PPKM).

According to the ministry’s observation, virus transmission occurred in the lodging as each room was occupied by four people and the PON participants often ate together, the minister said.

“It will be our evaluation to improve the implementation of health protocols in future events,” he said.

The implementation of the health protocols could still be improved by giving greater authority to the regional covid-19 handling task forces, he added.

Furthermore, he said that his ministry had noticed that seven infected athletes had returned to their provinces before the end of their five-day quarantine period.

One athlete returned to Tarakan City, North Kalimantan Province, two returned to Jambi Province, three to Sidoarjo District, East Java Province, and one to the Special Region of Yogyakarta Province, he said.

“The President [Joko Widodo] has urged the athletes to be quarantined at their hometowns,” Sadikin said.

Several standards had been set regarding the implementation of health protocols at the XX PON, including giving adequate authority to the task forces and maintaining distancing among participants at the hotels and hostels both while resting and eating, the minister said.

Other standards included conducting routine covid-19 PCR tests to identify infected participants faster and keeping isolation centers ready to quarantine patients immediately, he added.

  • Asia Pacific Report notes that the Games were controversial because of repeated calls to postpone them given the public health risks from the covid-19 pandemic.

Desi Purnamawati and Uyu Liman are reporters with Antara News.

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