Bali Journal of Anesthesiology

: 2020  |  Volume : 4  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 33--34

How indonesia copes with coronavirus disease 2019 so far (part one): The country, the government, and the society

Christopher Ryalino 
 Department of Anesthesiology, Faculty of Medicine, Udayana University, Bali, Indonesia

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Christopher Ryalino
Department of Anesthesiology, Faculty of Medicine, Udayana University, Jl. PB Sudirman, Denpasar 80232, Bali

How to cite this article:
Ryalino C. How indonesia copes with coronavirus disease 2019 so far (part one): The country, the government, and the society.Bali J Anaesthesiol 2020;4:33-34

How to cite this URL:
Ryalino C. How indonesia copes with coronavirus disease 2019 so far (part one): The country, the government, and the society. Bali J Anaesthesiol [serial online] 2020 [cited 2022 Aug 18 ];4:33-34
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Full Text

Dear Editor,

As feared, the novel Coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) finally reached Indonesia. The government declared that on March 26, the number of people infected with Covid-19 reached 790.[1] Looking back, the first suspected patient was identified on March 2, 2020 [Figure 1].[2] Moreover, by March 19, as many as 17 provinces in Indonesia have been affected by Covid-19. The next day, Indonesia's death toll from Covid-19 soared to 32, the highest in Southeast Asia at the time. As one of the world's most populous countries, Indonesia is right to be alarmed by any people-to-people transmitting disease, and Covid-19 is not an exception.{Figure 1}

The government reacted. While they have suspended all flights from mainland China since February 5, the travel restriction expanded to include visitors who have been in Italy, Vatican, Iran, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, France, and the United Kingdom for the last 14 days.[3] His Excellency, Mr. President Joko Widodo, asked for all Indonesians to practice social distancing to slow the spread of Covid-19, although it seemed that the government considered that a lockdown was not an option for Indonesia.[4] In a live meeting with the Indonesian Covid-19 Taskforce, he also announced seven essential measures: mass rapid tests, incentive for medical personnel, involve religious people, stop exporting medical equipment: stop holiday, incentive for small and medium enterprises, and increase food stocks, to hasten the eradication of the outbreak in Indonesia.

By March 16, most state-owned schools and universities in the affected cities have been closed, and the teachers and students were instructed to switch to the e-learning platform. The Minister of Education and Cultural Mr. Nadiem Makarim announced that his ministry was prepared to provide an online learning platform for free to schools and students.[5] Mrs. Sri Mulyani, Indonesia's Minister of Finance, cleared a 1 trillion Indonesian rupiah (around US$ 70 m), shifted from the infrastructure budget, into healthcare and pandemic prevention.[6]

The government also released its official health protocol publicly on March 16.[7] The official website for Covid-19 information in Indonesia (, which displays various essential information, was launched by the BNPB, the country's national authority for disaster management.

Religious leaders announced that in regard to the outbreak, some religious activities would be altered. Muslim leaders promote Friday prayers are held privately at homes instead of mosques, Bali's government announced that there would be no festival held a day before this year's Silent Day (falls on March 25), and Catholic and Christian's leaders chose to switch into online Sunday masses to minimize overcrowded churches.[8],[9],[10] Considering that Indonesia is a religious country, these supports from religious leaders may promote the social distancing habit publicized by the president.

Athletes, actors, actresses, and other influencers have also shared their concerns about the disease. By using their own social media profile, each has its own way to promote social distancing, although its influence cannot be objectively evaluated. But of course, regardless of all these efforts, it all came back to the society. News reported that instead of using the social distancing time to stay at home, many were reported visiting various attractions and leisure destinations.

Some factors may hinder the government's hard work should their plan involved nothing but social distancing recommendation. First, the lack of discipline in society. It has long been known that Indonesians do not cope well with discipline. Take queue, for example. You will hardly see Indonesian will queue neatly in one or two lines when the boarding announcement was made in the airport, even in the major airports. Another example is timekeeping. Late for appointments is considered very tolerable in Indonesia, even for physicians. Late for private practice opening hours, late for surgery appointments, etc. The expatriates living in Indonesia even have the term “Indonesian standard time” (which translates into an hour later from the original appointment) when setting up an appointment with the locals. This thing must be addressed first before social distancing become effective, although nothing can be fixed given the limited amount of time.

Second, the economic situation. Despite the fact that the United States removed Indonesia from the list of developing countries as per February 10, in reality, nothing can be seen improve in the country's economy. Many are still living daily from paycheck to paycheck, which means if the social distancing is employed, they will no longer be able to feed the family. Moreover, looking at the country's economic situation nationally, questions will raise whether the government has the ability to provide all its people with food, medicines, and else, given its 270 million population.

Third, its strong religious and cultural customs. Yes, these factors are supposed to be the strength of the country. However, like anything else, it has another side. This strong will to carry out the religious and cultural customs mean that the social distancing recommendation will be ignored. They tend to choose to carry on with religious and cultural customs and stated that these we have been living in these customs for centuries, and it does not feel right to stop. It happens in Bali before the famous Silent Day, and maybe only time will tell what happens in other upcoming religious holidays.

The government has set up some measures in their effort to minimize the outbreak. However, in this case, the results are also society dependent. Without wise and proper action by the society regarding this outbreak, all efforts will be useless, and we may see what happens in Italy now, happening in Indonesia in the future.


1The National Board for Disaster Management. Situation of Coronavirus in Indonesia (Situasi Virus Corona). Available from: [Last retrieved on 2020 Mar 21].
2First Coronavirus Cases Confirmed in Indonesia Amid Fears Nation is Ill-Prepared for an Outbreak. The Guardian; 2 March 2020. Available from: first-coronavirus-cases-confirmed-in-indonesia-amid-fears-nation-is-ill-prepared-for-outbreak. [Last retrieved on 2020 Mar 02].
3COVID-19: Indonesia Bars People from Hardest-Hit Regions in Iran, South Korea, Italy. The Jakarta Post. Available from: [Last retrieved on 2020 Mar 07].
4Jokowi Calls for 'Social Distancing' to Stem Virus Spread. The Jakarta Post. Available from: [Last retrieved on 2020 Mar 15].
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8Friday Prayer at Home for Most but Some Risk Infection at Mosques. Al-Jazeera. Available from: [Last retrieved on 2020 Mar 20].
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