Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan tests positive for COVID-19

The 51-year-old Indonesian politician says he currently has no symptoms and will self-isolate for the next two weeks.

Anies Baswedan shows a chart during an interview at his office amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Jakarta, Indonesia, September 17, 2020 [File: Yuddy Cahya Budiman/ Reuters]

The governor of Jakarta, Indonesia’s capital, has tested positive for COVID-19 as the world’s fourth-most populous country struggles to contain a record spike in the number of infections.

Anies Baswedan said on Tuesday that he was currently asymptomatic and would self-isolate.

“This should serve as a warning that anyone can contract COVID-19, so we need to remain cautious,” he said in a video posted to his Instagram account.

The 51-year-old governor is among a number of politicians and officials to contract the virus.

Indonesia’s transportation and religious affairs ministers have previously been treated for the virus, while the secretary of the Jakarta administration, Saefullah, died after contracting COVID-19 in September.

Anies’s deputy, Ahmad Riza Patria, also tested positive to the virus on Sunday, according to the city’s website.

The governor said he and his deputy would continue to work remotely for the next two weeks.

Indonesia, a country of 270 million people, has posted three days of record-high case numbers in the past week.

With more than 530,000 infections and nearly 17,000 deaths, the country has the highest coronavirus caseload in Southeast Asia, although some health experts say it is likely to be far higher given its limited testing and contact tracing.

Jakarta, a bustling megacity, has also recorded new record highs in infections over the past month, with an average of about 1,240 cases per day in the past week. Unlike some neighbouring countries, Indonesia has not brought in strict national lockdowns, but opted for local measures.

Since October, Jakarta’s governor has relaxed curbs to reinstate “large-scale social restrictions,” which means malls and restaurants can operate providing they shorten their hours. Parks and museums were also allowed to open with some curbs.

Some health experts and officials have linked the recent spike in cases to mass gatherings in and around the capital.

This has included thousands joining street protests against a new job creation law and large gatherings, often with little social distancing, to mark the return from self-imposed exile of controversial Muslim scholar Rizieq Shihab.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies