COVID 19: Public fend for themselves amid scarcity of information from government
“Before that, no information. Many residents do not know anything about the coronavirus. Honestly, we are worried now because the patient was our neighbor,” she said.She said she needed detailed information about the virus, especially about the symptoms and what to do not to spread it to others.“We know about how to maintain our hygiene. But we need more information about the symptoms and how it spreads. I’m sure many residents are still in the dark,” she went on.Surakarta administration claims it has disseminated information about the novel coronavirus in public spaces such as markets, shopping centers, bus terminals and stations. Officials say they have reached out to subdistrict and even to neighborhood (RT) units.“We have to move fast so people will know what the coronavirus is,” Siti Wahyuningsih, the head of Surakarta Health Agency said on Sunday.She said the main points of the information included hygiene and good nutrition.Residents should not panic, she said, the coronavirus was the same as other viruses. “The important thing is to maintain immunity, keep up our hygiene and our health standards. We also encourage people not to get close to crowds,” she said.Surakarta Mayor FX Hadi “Rudy” Rudyatmo said his administration was serious about it and had allocated Rp 2 billion (US$ 131.8 million) for extraordinary measures.North Sulawesi administration has allocated extra funding to handle the coronavirus crisis. The funding will be used to add an isolation room as there are currently only 10 available.Manado Health Agency head Ivan Marthin said it had distributed information in the community.The North Sulawesi provincial capital has reported one COVID-19 case and Lion Air operated flights from the city to Guangzhou in China before the outbreak.Ivan acknowledged the limited information most people had about the coronavirus, but they knew that it could be deadly. “Most people know about the coronavirus from social media, that’s why we give them information about the spread, that it is not airborne,” he said.Latest research has said that the novel coronavirus is mostly likely not airborne, but this is not conclusive.Deisy Makawata, a Manado, North Sulawesi, resident, said she knew only a little about the virus. “I’m kind of in the dark. What I know, for example, is to avoid people who’ve just returned from abroad and that the virus stays on things but not in the air.”The administration in Batam in Riau Islands, which borders Singapore, says it relies on the media to spread information about the novel coronavirus because of budget constraints.Batam Health Agency Didi Kusumajadi told The Jakarta Post on Saturday that it did not have any plan to reach out to local communities.“We don’t have enough budget or manpower to go to neighborhoods. We rely on the media,” he said. But he said he had deployed medical personnel to schools to provide information.“Sometimes we get requests from companies or factories, and we do that,” he went on.He said the administration had sent a circular, telling people not to panic. He admitted that many people knew only a little about the virus.Sigit Pramono, 38, who runs a food stall, said he got information from social media. “I don’t know the symptoms in detail, I know very little,” he said.“What I know is to keep up our hygiene, maintain our immunity and avoid leaving the house if not really necessary,” he said.Sarma Siregar, an employee of a private company, said he did not know how to prevent the spread of the virus.Another resident, Susi Lee, said she had some knowledge about the virus but she learned about it from social media.Last week, the police arrested at least six people for spreading misinformation and fake news about the virus on social media.Agust Hari contributed to this story from Manado, North SulawesiTopics : Despite the country having two months to prepare for the arrival of the novel coronavirus outbreak, Indonesian people say they have limited knowledge about the virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19, and what little they know they have learned from the media or social media, not from any government institutions.Residents of Surakarta, Central Java, one of the cities reporting confirmed COVID-19 cases, said they began to get more information after Indonesia reported its first confirmed cases on March 2 and before the city reported its first death.Erlangga Bima Sakti, 23, said before the first deaths were reported in the country on March 11, he did not receive much official information about the virus. Earlier, he learned about it from the media, including social media. “There has been limited information about the virus from the government. It began to trickle after someone died,” he said.Another resident, Iwan Adi, 23, also found the information on his own from social media and news portals.“I learned about how it spread, how to prevent it, what the symptoms are, from the media. Before, there was not much from the government,” he said.Astuti Herliani, 45, a neighbor of the deceased victim in Surakarta, said a health official came to the subdistrict office and invited residents on March 14, three days after the COVID-19 patient died in Moewardi General Hospital.