by Dames Alexander Sinaga
JAKARTA, Sept. 9 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia is beefing up COVID-19 pandemic control and tightening security against terrorists on the island of Bali in preparation for the Group of 20 (G20) summit slated for November.
The number of newly-confirmed COVID-19 infections keeps rising in the Southeast Asian country, largely due to the emergence of the more transmissible Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5.
On Friday, health authorities confirmed 2,804 new cases across the country with 12 related deaths. Bali reported 36 new cases.
The country's health ministry has been improving its COVID-19 contact tracing application PeduliLindungi, which is generally used to gain access to public sites, such as airports, hospitals and supermarkets.
Deputy Health Minister Dante Saksono Harbuwono has told media that the ministry was in the process of adding 14 foreign languages to the app to meet the needs of delegates participating in the upcoming international event. All delegates, he said, have to be fully vaccinated and registered on PeduliLindungi prior to their departures.
"Delegates are expected to have their health insurances or travel insurances that guarantee healthcare in hospitals, including COVID-19 treatment," Harbuwono said.
He also said that the ministry had arranged COVID-19 preventative measures and will provide access for delegates to health services. At the airport in Bali, authorities will check the delegates' COVID-19 vaccine verification and conduct screening for the virus. Those with body temperatures of over 37.5 degrees centigrade will have to perform a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test. Delegates who pass the screening will be given rapid antigen tests.
In the area of the conference, makeshift ICUs, clinics and mobile response teams will be made available with doctors, nurses and ambulances standing by.
The health ministry has appointed seven internationally acclaimed hospitals in Bali as referral hospitals to meet the needs of the event.
Meanwhile, Indonesia has been continuing to accelerate its national vaccination program, as more than 200 million people across the country have received their first dose of vaccines, while over 170 million have taken the second dose.
Home to some 270 million people, Indonesia has administered over 430 million doses, including the third and the fourth booster jabs, since January last year.
TIGHTENED SECURITY AGAINST INFILTRATION OF TERRORISTS
Bali, one of the world's best tourist destinations, experienced devastating terrorist suicide bombing attacks in 2002 and 2005, which were all carried out by Southeast Asian militant network Jemaah Islamiyah. More than 200 people, mostly foreign tourists, were killed in the 2002 attack, and more than 20 deaths were logged in the 2005 attack.
The upcoming G20 summit, which will take place in Bali's resort town of Nusa Dua in November, will be guarded by joint security forces consisting of the police and military.
A Bali police spokesman told Xinhua that more than 2,500 personnel from the Bali police were to be assigned for the G20 event with the assistance of personnel of police from nearby provinces.
"We are also cooperating with the elite Detachment 88 counter-terrorism taskforce to track down suspected terrorists," said Stefanus Satake Bayu Setianto, the spokesman.
In June, the Indonesian army conducted counter-terrorism simulations in Bali, where soldiers performed unarmed fighting skills and the rescue of hostages. ■