COVID-19 Response in Lombok Nusa Tenggara Barat

Governor of Nusa Tenggara Barat Province, Dr. H. Zulkieflimansyah officially announced the first COVID-19 confirmed case in Nusa Tenggara Barat on 24 March 2020, then number of cases was gradually increasing ever since. Considering the situation, the Governor issued a circular letter number 180/112/KUM Year 2020 on the efforts on preventing exposure to the COVID-19 in the workplace[1]. The status of non-emergency emergency is also extended from 16 March 2020 until 31 August 2020 through Governor of Nusa Tenggara Barat Province decision letter number 360 - 298[2]. Structurally, a task force for COVID-19 rapid prevention in Nusa Tenggara Barat Province is formed and headed by NTB Province head of Regional Disaster Management Agency (BPBD – Badan Penanggulangan Bencana Daerah) H. Ahsanul Khalik, S.Sos., MH.

Following the increasing cases, many sub-villages self-quarantine their areas for health safety reasons, returnee should follow health-screening measures and no outsider is allowed to enter. In the last month, activities in public places started to be limited and most people preferred, and suggested, to stay at home. Many false information and hoaxes caused unnecessary concern and anxiety, many people were afraid of even to work alone on their own farm, even though some other people were still being ignorant by keep going out of their houses with no valid reasons. As in other areas, school were closed temporarily and teachers provided materials for distance learning solution; offices and businesses sent their employees to work from home and/or implemented staggered shifts, some had put their workers on lay-off or unpaid forced leave; communal religion activities or communal praying and worshiping were to be done at home; Stores, except grocery, market, pharmacist and other basic needs providers, were also closed or limited their business hours.

Having been working in Lombok since 2018 to response the earthquake emergency situation focusing on fulfilling the immediate needs of the survivors, building awareness and capacity on risk reduction and preparedness, until current rehabilitation and reconstruction phase, YAKKUM Emergency Unit (YEU), as one of humanitarian organizations with mandate in emergency response, immediately took part in the mitigation and preparedness efforts against COVID-19. YEU worked mostly with community in the villages, government including the health departments, as well as local and national networks.

Mitigation and preparedness initiative and effort from either government, civil society organizations, communities and other stakeholders were conducted incessantly to prevent further transmission and its impact. One of YEU assisted village, Desa Bayan that already has trained village disaster task force (previously for earthquake preparedness), proposing alteration to village budget (RPJMDes) for COVID-19 response management in the village, such as directly monitor the returnees either domestic and migrant workers in collaboration with Puskesmas Senaru.

YEU, supported by Diakonie Katastrophenhilfe (DKH) and in collaboration with village government through their village emergency task force and local community health centers, conducted rapid initial assessment to gather information on the immediate needs to prevent further transmission by reducing the risk within YEU assisted areas. In March and April 2020, YEU distributed 1965 packages of supplementary food items such as fruits, eggs, milk and vitamins for COVID-19 task forces in Puskesmas[3] Tanjung, Puskesmas Pemenang, Puskesmas Gunungsari, RSUD Provinsi NTB, and PSC 119 Kota Mataram. In addition to supplementary food items, YEU also distributed thermometer, hygiene packages such as room disinfectant liquid and hand sanitizer, and installation of hand washing station in these Puskesmas.

Puskesmas as one of primary health service providers is situated at the front line and the first responder, closely connected with communities. The provincial government has appointed 18 referral hospitals throughout Nusa Tenggara Barat (NTB), capacity building and meeting the basic hygiene requirement as part of necessary health measurement is crucial to be conducted in Puskesmas to help preventing local transmission and cut the contagion chain of COVID-19.

YEU COVID-19 preparedness activities in Lombok have been published by SuaraNTB and Lombok Post (newspaper) on 28 April 2020.