March 26, 2020 / 11:25 AM / 10 days ago

Indonesia capital sets up disinfectant-spraying booths to fight virus

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia’s capital is installing hand-washing stations and disinfectant-spraying booths across the city of 10 million people to try to curb an accelerating spread of coronavirus infections.

Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country, has reported 893 cases of the virus and 78 deaths, the majority clustered in and around the capital.

The governor of Jakarta has declared a two-week emergency that includes the shutting of cinemas and letting staff work from home though President Joko Widodo has so far resisted calls for tougher lockdowns amid concerns about the economic impact.

The city government has installed hand-washing stations in some public areas to reinforce the message of the need for good hygiene. 

“We have to be more vigilant and most importantly keep the environment clean,” said Jakarta-resident Desianta, who was at a hand-washing station set up in the city.

“Everything begins from home and then around the neighbourhood, we help to protect each other,” she said.

The city has also been setting up booths covered by plastic sheets that spray disinfectant on to people’s clothes with the aim of killing germs.After being sprayed, security guard Suwarno said he felt a little more at ease but not totally safe “because there are many ways of transmission”.

Another resident, Marina Nur Solihin, praised efforts by authorities to disinfect public transport and other facilities.

Nonetheless, some experts were sceptical about the effectiveness of such efforts, including spraying disinfectant indiscriminately in some areas.

“It’s just to reassure people... but it’s actually a waste of resources,” said Syahrizal Syarif, an epidemiologist at the University of Indonesia, adding it was better to target specific items like tables and chairs in public places.

Additional reporting by Johan Purnomo and Tommy Ardiansyah; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Nick Macfie

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