Double test ahead for Batam health measures

Double test ahead for Batam health measures

In the next two months, the city of Batam in the Riau Islands is expecting two significant events that will test its ability to handle COVID-19.

They are the reopening of travel to and from Singapore on Oct. 26 and the regional elections in December.

On Monday, acting Riau Islands governor Bahtiar instructed authorities in the province to strictly uphold COVID-19 health protocols. The resumption of travel to Singapore would spur on the city’s economy, he said, but everyone needed to stay alert to avoid more virus transmission.

“Go ahead, do your business, sell your products and go to work, but please comply with the health protocols, which are an important gesture to save not just ourselves but everybody else,” said Bahtiar as reported by kompas.id.

Bahtiar said he was also focused on the possible emergence of new clusters after the 2020 regional elections. He said Batam was at the greatest risk because it was densely populated.

Batam Health Agency head Didi Kusmarjadi said some 700 healthcare workers would be deployed to help safeguard the elections.

As of Tuesday, the Riau Islands had recorded 12,006 confirmed COVID-19 cases with 8,091 recoveries and 270 deaths.

Indonesia recently arranged the establishment of a travel corridor with Singapore to facilitate urgent diplomatic missions and essential business travel between the two countries amid the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.

Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi said the arrangement, dubbed the Reciprocal Green Lane (RGL), would come into effect on Oct. 26.

“Trips [via the corridor] may be available within several days in accordance with Indonesia’s e-visa application process and Singapore’s safe travel pass,” Retno said, adding that the travel corridor was limited to pressing diplomatic and business trips and did not cover tourism.

The agreement has established two travel routes, one between Soekarno-Hatta International Airport and Changi International Airport and the other between the Batam Ferry Terminal and the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal.

Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is providing special lanes for passengers traveling between Indonesia and Singapore following the travel corridor agreement.

Retno said the two nations had agreed to certain procedures to ensure adherence to health protocols.

For instance, travelers are required to take two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests – one within 72 hours before departure and one upon arrival at the airport or ferry terminal.

The Indonesian government previously established travel corridors with the United Arab Emirates and South Korea to grant leeway to state departments and businesses from both countries, allowing them to reconnect and resume projects that were halted as a result of the pandemic while still complying with health procedures. (nkn)

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