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Indonesian President gets flak for not wearing mask at meeting

JAKARTA: President Joko Widodo and several ministers faced criticism for not wearing masks in photographs taken during a Cabinet meeting on Monday.

In the photos posted on the Cabinet Secretariat's Twitter account @setkabgoid on Monday, Mr Widodo was seen without a mask while leading a limited Cabinet meeting discussing the pandemic and the national economic recovery at Merdeka Palace in Jakarta.

Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan, Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto and Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD were seen sitting opposite the President, also without masks.

Some other ministers in the meeting, such as Finance Minister Sri Mulyani, State Secretary Pratikno and Cabinet Secretary Pramono Anung, were seen complying with the mask rule.

Users took to Twitter to remind Mr Joko and his ministers to wear masks, particularly as the national Covid-19 task force's guidelines - issued on the order of the President himself - urged everyone to do so.

On Tuesday, Presidential Secretariat head Heru Budi Hartono responded to the criticism, saying the President and ministers had complied with health protocol and had been "putting the masks on and off" during the meeting, since their voices were sometimes unclear when speaking with masks on.

"Acrylic partition glass was also installed (on the table)," Mr Heru said as quoted by kompas.com.

The participants had also maintained physical distancing and everyone had been obliged to undergo Covid-19 tests.

Indonesia recorded 1,815 new infections yesterday, bringing the number of cases to 116,871. There were 64 additional deaths, taking the toll to 5,452.

The Philippines yesterday reported 3,462 infections and nine deaths. Infections rose to 115,980 and deaths2,123.

Malaysia recorded 21 new cases, of which 15 were imported. It has 9,023 cases so far with the death toll at 125. - JAKARTA POST/ANN, REUTERS, THE STAR

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