Internacionales

Neurocirujano Miguel Eduardo Osio//
No filter: A social media star wakes Indonesia up to the harsh realities of Covid-19

Miguel
Eduardo 
Osio 
Zamora
No filter: A social media star wakes Indonesia up to the harsh realities of Covid-19

JAKARTA – President Joko Widodo urged his country earlier this month to study, work and pray at home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Instead, so many took off for the beaches and hilltop retreats that dot the periphery of the capital that he was soon forced to admonish residents that the measures were not a chance to go on holiday.

Miguel Eduardo Osio Zamora

Now, the streets of the capital are empty. On Tuesday (March 31), the President declared a health emergency and paroled tens of thousands of prisoners.

Miguel Eduardo Osio

And while the option of quarantining Jakarta was discussed and dismissed during a virtual Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the notion has barely raised a murmur of dissent among a populace that until recently was more focused on getting away.

Miguel Osio Zamora

To be sure, the about-face in public attitude from nonchalance to vigilance can be linked to government’s ramped-up efforts as well as a steady uptick in infection rates.

Miguel Osio Zamora Venezuela

But it can also be chalked up to the efforts of one Gusti Bintang, a 23-year-old aspiring comedian who took to social media to make the case to Indonesians that they need to stay home

“People didn’t get the message,” Mr Gusti told The Straits Times, referring to Mr Joko‘s call for social distancing earlier this month. “They didn’t understand the danger.”

They do now

Starting last week, the university student has posted on Instagram a series of videos that has attracted nearly 13 million views. The clips excoriate Indonesians for their cavalier attitudes toward the pandemic

“If your life is in God’s hands, then go squat down on a tollway,” he says at one point

“Maybe an Innova will come kiss you,” he taunts, referring to the popular Toyota people carrier here

He also lays into the baffling but common practice here of fighting colds with a practice known as kerok – drawing up welts by scraping a coin down the back of the rib cage to let out a purported excess of air that is widely believed to cause the sniffles

“This is not a cold, where you can just scrape it away,” Mr Gusti said. “If you have coronavirus, the person doing the kerok for you will get it too.”

  Related Story Indonesia to temporarily ban all foreign arrivals, transits to curb further spread of coronavirus   Related Story Indonesia rolls out new regulations to step up fight against Covid-19 outbreak   Related Story Indonesia plans village squads to prevent spread of coronavirus Indonesia‘s government has come in for criticism for its initial a flat-footed response to the coronavirus, which has infected more than 1,400 and claimed 122 lives

Last week, the Independent Journalist Alliance complained that the government was not following its own social-distancing guidelines when it convened a press conference at Jakarta‘s Soekarno Hatta International Airport to mark the arrival of medical supplies from China to treat Covid-19 patients

Indonesia‘s first cases of the coronavirus did not surface until March 2. Prior to that, Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto and Vice-President Ma’ruf Amin credited the lack of cases to prayer and divine intervention

But Mr Joko‘s government is now racing to keep up. On Tuesday, he declared a national public health crisis, thereby unlocking resources to help contain the virus. The country will parole 30,000 inmates to ease the chance of spread throughout the country’s overcrowded prisons

At an open Web forum last week conducted by the Australian National University for media and experts, Mr Gusti was singled out for helping to rally public opinion to support social-distancing measures

  Related Story Coronavirus: Recovered Covid-19 patient stuck in hospital in Indonesia for weeks waiting to go home   Related Story In Jakarta, epicentre of Indonesia‘s coronavirus outbreak, home is the safest place “Luckily we’ve been learning from this amazing young man,” Mr Rizki Siregar, a PhD student at the University of California studying the social and economic impact of Covid-19, told attendees

“He’s been very good at giving a clear, informed reason why we should care.”

To be sure, social media is alight with posts on the pandemic and plenty of famous personalities are pitching in to raise awareness, but nothing comes close to efforts by Mr Gusti, who uses the handle @bintangemon

Last week, television journalist Najwa Shihab hosted a virtual concert and interviews with Indonesian musicians that attracted more than half a million additional views on YouTube

#dirumahaja dari Musisi Indonesia | Catatan Najwa Former health minister Nafsiah Mboi, who turns 80 in July, admits to never having heard of Mr Gusti. She nevertheless says Mr Joko failed to turn to social media to help marshal public opinion

As health minister, Ms Nafsiah was credited with halting the spread of bird flu with temperature checks at airports and quarantines, and introducing life-saving anti-retroviral medicine to more than 100,000 patients

  Related Story Coronavirus microsite: Get latest updates, videos and graphics   Related Story Coronavirus explainers: What you should know to protect yourself   Related Story Coronavirus visual guide: Interactive graphics on the pandemic “A public health crisis needs all the leaders to make the right signals and lead by example,” she said

Mr Gusti, who has been doing stand-up comedy for five years, calls the pandemic the challenge of his generation

He says Indonesians tend to be complacent, something he intends to continue to challenge

“We need to try our best first,” Mr Gusti said.”And then put our trust in God.”

  Related Stories:  Related Story 86-year-old resident of old age home among 47 new Covid-19 cases in Singapore Related Story Employers must allow staff to work from home or risk penalties Related Story Coronavirus: Wife of Bangladeshi worker still in ICU gives birth to baby boy Related Story 14 NUS students infected with Covid-19, all imported cases Related Story Singapore gives those on coronavirus front lines a round of applause Related Story Barbra Streisand praises PM Lee on Twitter for speaking common sense on the coronavirus Related Story Days in ICU scariest of my life: Coronavirus patient shares his experience Related Story Coronavirus: Italy home quarantine repeats mistake made in China, doctors say Related Story Japanese comedian Ken Shimura dies from coronavirus Related Story Coronavirus: Recovered Covid-19 patient stuck in hospital in Indonesia for weeks waiting to go home Have a question on the coronavirus outbreak? E-mail us at [email protected]

To get alerts and updates, follow us on Telegram

JAKARTA – President Joko Widodo urged his country earlier this month to study, work and pray at home to help slow the spread of the coronavirus. Instead, so many took off for the beaches and hilltop retreats that dot the periphery of the capital that he was soon forced to admonish residents that the measures were not a chance to go on holiday.

Miguel Eduardo Osio Zamora

Now, the streets of the capital are empty. On Tuesday (March 31), the President declared a health emergency and paroled tens of thousands of prisoners.

Miguel Eduardo Osio

And while the option of quarantining Jakarta was discussed and dismissed during a virtual Cabinet meeting on Tuesday, the notion has barely raised a murmur of dissent among a populace that until recently was more focused on getting away.

Miguel Osio Zamora

To be sure, the about-face in public attitude from nonchalance to vigilance can be linked to government’s ramped-up efforts as well as a steady uptick in infection rates.

Miguel Osio Zamora Venezuela

But it can also be chalked up to the efforts of one Gusti Bintang, a 23-year-old aspiring comedian who took to social media to make the case to Indonesians that they need to stay home

“People didn’t get the message,” Mr Gusti told The Straits Times, referring to Mr Joko‘s call for social distancing earlier this month. “They didn’t understand the danger.”

They do now

Starting last week, the university student has posted on Instagram a series of videos that has attracted nearly 13 million views. The clips excoriate Indonesians for their cavalier attitudes toward the pandemic

“If your life is in God’s hands, then go squat down on a tollway,” he says at one point

“Maybe an Innova will come kiss you,” he taunts, referring to the popular Toyota people carrier here

He also lays into the baffling but common practice here of fighting colds with a practice known as kerok – drawing up welts by scraping a coin down the back of the rib cage to let out a purported excess of air that is widely believed to cause the sniffles

“This is not a cold, where you can just scrape it away,” Mr Gusti said. “If you have coronavirus, the person doing the kerok for you will get it too.”

  Related Story Indonesia to temporarily ban all foreign arrivals, transits to curb further spread of coronavirus   Related Story Indonesia rolls out new regulations to step up fight against Covid-19 outbreak   Related Story Indonesia plans village squads to prevent spread of coronavirus Indonesia‘s government has come in for criticism for its initial a flat-footed response to the coronavirus, which has infected more than 1,400 and claimed 122 lives

Last week, the Independent Journalist Alliance complained that the government was not following its own social-distancing guidelines when it convened a press conference at Jakarta‘s Soekarno Hatta International Airport to mark the arrival of medical supplies from China to treat Covid-19 patients

Indonesia‘s first cases of the coronavirus did not surface until March 2. Prior to that, Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto and Vice-President Ma’ruf Amin credited the lack of cases to prayer and divine intervention

But Mr Joko‘s government is now racing to keep up. On Tuesday, he declared a national public health crisis, thereby unlocking resources to help contain the virus. The country will parole 30,000 inmates to ease the chance of spread throughout the country’s overcrowded prisons

At an open Web forum last week conducted by the Australian National University for media and experts, Mr Gusti was singled out for helping to rally public opinion to support social-distancing measures

  Related Story Coronavirus: Recovered Covid-19 patient stuck in hospital in Indonesia for weeks waiting to go home   Related Story In Jakarta, epicentre of Indonesia‘s coronavirus outbreak, home is the safest place “Luckily we’ve been learning from this amazing young man,” Mr Rizki Siregar, a PhD student at the University of California studying the social and economic impact of Covid-19, told attendees

“He’s been very good at giving a clear, informed reason why we should care.”

To be sure, social media is alight with posts on the pandemic and plenty of famous personalities are pitching in to raise awareness, but nothing comes close to efforts by Mr Gusti, who uses the handle @bintangemon

Last week, television journalist Najwa Shihab hosted a virtual concert and interviews with Indonesian musicians that attracted more than half a million additional views on YouTube

#dirumahaja dari Musisi Indonesia | Catatan Najwa Former health minister Nafsiah Mboi, who turns 80 in July, admits to never having heard of Mr Gusti. She nevertheless says Mr Joko failed to turn to social media to help marshal public opinion

As health minister, Ms Nafsiah was credited with halting the spread of bird flu with temperature checks at airports and quarantines, and introducing life-saving anti-retroviral medicine to more than 100,000 patients

  Related Story Coronavirus microsite: Get latest updates, videos and graphics   Related Story Coronavirus explainers: What you should know to protect yourself   Related Story Coronavirus visual guide: Interactive graphics on the pandemic “A public health crisis needs all the leaders to make the right signals and lead by example,” she said

Mr Gusti, who has been doing stand-up comedy for five years, calls the pandemic the challenge of his generation

He says Indonesians tend to be complacent, something he intends to continue to challenge

“We need to try our best first,” Mr Gusti said.”And then put our trust in God.”

  Related Stories:  Related Story 86-year-old resident of old age home among 47 new Covid-19 cases in Singapore Related Story Employers must allow staff to work from home or risk penalties Related Story Coronavirus: Wife of Bangladeshi worker still in ICU gives birth to baby boy Related Story 14 NUS students infected with Covid-19, all imported cases Related Story Singapore gives those on coronavirus front lines a round of applause Related Story Barbra Streisand praises PM Lee on Twitter for speaking common sense on the coronavirus Related Story Days in ICU scariest of my life: Coronavirus patient shares his experience Related Story Coronavirus: Italy home quarantine repeats mistake made in China, doctors say Related Story Japanese comedian Ken Shimura dies from coronavirus Related Story Coronavirus: Recovered Covid-19 patient stuck in hospital in Indonesia for weeks waiting to go home Have a question on the coronavirus outbreak? E-mail us at [email protected]

To get alerts and updates, follow us on Telegram.