East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) Governor Viktor B. Laiskodat has announced that starting Friday the provincial administration will no longer charge residents and visitors for rapid tests and polymerase chain reaction (PCR) swab tests in COVID-19 testing.
The governor said that he had already signed a gubernatorial decree on the free service.
“Yesterday I called in several parties, including Nusa Cendana University, to calculate [the estimated cost of the free testing], and I think if we lose [some rupiah], we will be just fine,” Viktor said on Friday as quoted by antaranews.com.
He said the free COVID-19 testing would help NTT residents, especially those who needed to travel outside the province.
“In December, we are expecting our students to return to their respective schools outside of NTT, and the trips will be costly,” he said.
The governor said the free testing was not exclusively for NTT residents.
“If any visitor [needs to test] but they cannot afford it, they are welcome to have the free testing,” he added.
Viktor said he appreciated Nusa Cendana University’s efforts in research and the transformation of its health clinic into a biomolecular laboratory for COVID-19 detection.
As of Thursday, NTT recorded a total of 583 confirmed COVID-19 cases, with 402 recoveries and seven fatalities.
NTT’s younger residents have been proactive in raising awareness about the pandemic. One local, Roslinda, 15, represented Indonesia in a United Nations forum as she talked about the effects of the pandemic on children in the country.
In the virtual conference held in early October, Roslinda shared her views on UN representatives in New York, humanitarian aid organization Mitra Wahana Visi Indonesia said in a statement on Oct. 12.
“We’re sad because we cannot meet our friends during the pandemic. Also, if we face difficulties with schoolwork, we cannot immediately ask for help from our teachers due to the school-from-home [policy],” Roslinda said at the forum.
“And for some of us whose parents have a low education, the difficulties are even greater,” she said, adding that a proper telecommunications infrastructure would play an important role in determining the success of studying from home.
The teenager expressed hope that the UN stakeholders could help children in overcoming these problems.
Separately, Malaka regency in NTT has seen relative success in promoting the government's “3M” health protocols on wearing masks, washing hands with soap and physical distancing.
In a video uploaded on Monday to the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) YouTube channel, journalist Frans Pati Herin of Kompas said that he had observed people following the health protocols, even in remote areas.
During his visit to Manuela village, located 256 kilometers from the NTT capital of Kupang, he encountered a woman in her 60s who was wearing a mask while out walking alone.
Frans said the woman told him that she always wore a mask whenever she went out in public after learning about the 3M protocols from the local administration and her local church. (nkn)