Queues at Jakarta airport as distancing rules ignored
Scenes prompt fears that virus not sufficiently contained as government allows selected people to fly home
JAKARTA: Thousands of travellers queued cheek by jowl at an airport terminal in Jakarta yesterday, ignoring regulations on social distancing and despite an official lockdown slated to run until the start of next month.
Photographs posted on social media, days after the government announced that several airlines could conditionally resume operations, showed passengers queueing to enter the airport and crowding inside the terminal.
In a statement, state airport operator Angkasa Pura said lines had thinned by afternoon and efforts were under way to ensure physical distancing.
But the scenes have raised fears that the coronavirus is not being sufficiently contained.
Despite social restrictions and a ban on the annual visit home by millions of Indonesians at the end of the Muslim fasting month, the government announced last week that migrant workers returning home and people in selected industries could fly.
Indonesia reported 568 new infections yesterday, taking the total to 16,006. There were 15 deaths taking the total to 1,043.
MASS PRAYERS IN M'SIA
In a separate development, Malaysia said it will ease a ban on mass prayers in mosques starting from today. The news follows last week's reopening of many businesses in Malaysia.
Malaysian police are investigating allegations that the Religious Affairs Minister flouted the movement control order.
Assistant Commissioner Mohd Zaid Hassan confirmed having received a police report on the matter.
Mr Zulkifli Mohamad Al-Bakri allegedly did this by sending a transfer letter to a senior officer of the Malaysian Islamic Development Department in person on March 31 and taking photos with the officer.
He is also alleged to have met an acquaintance, Dr Fathul Bari, and several others and conducted a meeting at his office without observing social distancing on April 13.
Malaysia reported 40 more cases yesterday, bringing the country's total number of infections to 6,819.
There was one new death, taking the country's death toll to 112.
TYPHOON HITS PHILIPPINES
The central part of the Philippines was hit by a powerful typhoon yesterday, forcing a complicated and risky evacuation of tens of thousands already hunkered down at home in view of Covid-19.
At least 200,000 people live in coastal areas or flimsy homes in the province near where the storm, called Typhoon Vongfong, made landfall with winds of up to 190kmh and heavy rain.
Tens of millions more live along the typhoon's path, which is expected to take it near the densely populated Manila.
Because of the twin threat of storm and virus, evacuation centres in central Philippines will accept only half their capacity and evacuees will have to wear face masks.
The Philippines recorded 258 more cases, taking the total to 11,876. It reported 18 more deaths, increasing the total to 790. - REUTERS, THE STAR, AFP