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EcoNusa Drives South Halmahera People to Avert Covid-19

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Medical team is checking a villager health. (Doc.EcoNusa/Kei Miyamoto)

Covid-19 pandemic has been on the eleventh month since its initial outbreak around the globe, including Indonesia. Official Indonesian government’s data from covid19.go.id as per 30 October 2020 showed 404,048 peoples positively infected by Covid-19 and 13,701 died. The statistics figure shows major cities with dense populations like Jakarta have high vulnerability of Covid-19 transmission. But, it does not mean the remote areas such as some villages in South Halmahera, North Maluku, are free from the transmission risk. 

Based on risk zone mapped by covid19.go.id, South Halmahera is identified as the yellow zone with low risk of transmission. The region is remote, but it remains risky due to the mobile people coming in and out of North Maluku to some villages or islets there.

Considering the fact, EcoNusa Maluku Expedition team visited some villages in South Halmahera Regency, North Maluku, to socialize the prevention of Covid-19 and distribute health equipment such as mask, protective health gear, face shield, and rapid test tools. The team also provided free medical check at the visited villages such as Gane Dalam, Sali Kecil, Samo, Posi-posi, Gumira, Kajoa, Makian and Tidore.

The medical team also provide knowledge on Covid-19, including preventive care, procedures for those infected by the disease, how to use and wash mask correctly, and correct handwashing.

Based on monitoring, it seems that the public has realized and knows very well about the existence of the Covid-19 virus outbreak. However, they have not fully implemented health protocols. This is due to the very close kinship ties between citizens that make it difficult for health protocols to be carried out in a disciplined manner. In addition, most residents also feel that their village is safe from Covid-19 because no positive cases have yet occurred.

Considering the fact, EcoNusa Maluku Expedition team visited some villages in South Halmahera Regency, North Maluku, to socialize the prevention of Covid-19 and distribute health equipment such as mask, protective health gear, face shield, and rapid test tools. The team also provided free medical check at the visited villages such as Gane Dalam, Sali Kecil, Samo, Posi-posi, Gumira, Kajoa, Makian and Tidore.

The medical team also provide knowledge on Covid-19, including preventive care, procedures for those infected by the disease, how to use and wash mask correctly, and correct handwashing.

Based on monitoring, the community has realized and recognized the existing Covid-19 pandemic. However, they have yet to apply health protocol completely. The close ties of family bonding have made them hard to apply a discipline health protocol. Besides, most villagers also felt that their villages are safe from Covid-19 due to the absence of positive case. 

Poor practice of health protocol was obviously seen on our arrival at Gane Dalam Village. The team was hailed by Cakalele and Ronggenglala dances performed by the villagers. During the ceremony, none wore mask nor had physical distancing. It also happened to some other villages such as Sali Kecil, Samo, Posi-posi and Gumira.

“If all of us here do not wear any mask, we in our daily life also do not wear any mask. Because we are safe here. But if we go to Ternate, we should wear masks. Otherwise, we will be fined at the port or they will send us home,” said Nurbaya, 44, over the sideline of Beach Community Festival in Gumira Village.

As from the five villages we visited, there was one with the highest risk of Covid-19 transmission, namely Sali Kecil Village, at East Bacan District, South Halmahera Regency.

Sali Kecil is one of the small islets with many visitors from local and outsiders of South Halmahera. The existing sacred grave at the village has lured visitors to pay a visit to the islet. People say the grave is for the second ancestor of the forefather establishing the village. Besides, there is also resort owned by a foreigner that also lures many foreign vacationers to Sali Kecil. The high number of visitors to this islet is potentially to rise the Covid-19 transmission risk. Let alone, health protocol is still poorly implemented in this spot.

To date, no Covid-19 case happened in the villages we visited. But these villages are susceptible to transmission due to the daily vessel schedule transiting in each village. Besides, the local people often go to Ternate or Bacan. This could increase the transmission risk. 

Read also: Maluku EcoNusa Expedition: Solidarity Mission for the Maluku Islands

But, Gumira has different story. This is one of the villages with discipline implementation of health protocol during the expedition.  This was seen from the celebration of Beach Community Festival that stipulated us as guests to wash hands before coming into the festival area. When we joined, all peoples wore masks. During the festival, they maintained the physical distancing. Whereas, on their daily activity, they do not wear any mask. But, when they host a celebration with many guests, they realized to be more disciplined to prevent the village from the disease.

Covid-19 pandemic has affected to the small villages in South Halmahera. Many villagers depending their lives on tourism and local commodities are now lacking sufficient income. 

Ibrahim Nasir, one of Sali Kecil villagers, said that some peoples of Sali working in a resort suffered from pay cut due to the absence of guests. “In the resort they have different jobs. Some work in the garden. A villager here also works as a tour guide to lead the guests. Some work at the restaurant, laundry. They usually work for a month, and now they only work for ten days. In ten days they get paid IDR800,000. Formerly they were paid IDR3,500,000, or IDR2,800,000 depending on their jobs,” said Ibrahim.

These local peoples hope the pandemic to be over. All will be healthy and free from viral disease, so the economy is back to normal. It important for the community to have awareness and sufficient knowledge on how to prevent the transmission. It is our job to help them have enough knowledge to fight against Covid-19 transmission. 

dr. Iqra Alimus

Tim medis Ekspedisi Maluku EcoNusa

Editor: V.A Wulandani & Leo Wahyudi

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Copyright ©2021.
EcoNusa Foundation
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