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Indonesia confirms biggest daily rise in infections

Jakarta to impose further large-scale social restrictions over the next two weeks

JAKARTA : Indonesia confirmed its biggest daily rise in infections yesterday with 247 coronavirus cases, taking its total to 2,738, said a Health Ministry official.

Mr Achmad Yurianto said there were 12 more deaths, taking the total to 221, while 204 people had recovered.

More than 14,300 coronavirus tests have been carried out.

In a separate development, Indonesia yesterday approved a request by the Jakarta administration to impose further large-scale social restrictions on the capital, the epicentre for the country's coronavirus cases.

President Joko Widodo has focused on combating the spread of the disease through social distancing policies, but has resisted tough lockdown measures.

Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto yesterday signed a central government order giving approval for the Jakarta government to impose a range of social restrictions in the city region over the next two weeks, with state agencies helping to implement them.

The restrictions include limiting religious events, defence-related activities, socio-cultural activities, and the closing of schools and workplaces.

Jakarta had already shut schools and enacted some restriction measures after declaring a state of emergency that runs until April 19.

The city has also launched a special police unit to guard the burials of coronavirus victims over concerns that scared residents could try to block funerals, the authorities said on Monday .

The move comes days after angry mobs in several cities on Sulawesi island and in Central Java blocked streets to prevent ambulances from transporting victims of the deadly illness to local cemeteries.

CEMETERIES

Launched at the weekend, the 120-strong Jakarta team will watch over victims' bodies as they are taken from hospitals to two cemeteries in the sprawling city.

"We've seen cases in other cities and we don't want such a thing to happen in Jakarta, so that's why we immediately formed the team as a preventative measure," said Mr Mokhamad Ngajib, head of the new unit.

Elsewhere in the region, the Philippines' Health Ministry yesterday reported 14 deaths and 104 new infections.

Deaths have reached 177 and total cases 3,764, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier in the day extended strict quarantine measures in the country to the end of this month.

Among those infected is a Singaporean preacher. He is the fourth case in the Philippine province of Zambales.

The manhad travelled to Singapore and Japan before arriving in the country on March 14, according to San Marcelino Mayor Elvis Soria.

Malaysia yesterday announced another cluster, at a religious school in Melaka, where 20 students and a teacher have tested positive.

The school has 70 students. Overall, Malaysia reported 170 new cases yesterday, taking infections to 3,963 cases.

The country also reported one new death, bringing the death toll to 63. - REUTERS, THE STAR, JAKARTA POST, PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

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