Merauke presses ahead with PON preparations amid COVID surge

Preparations are in full swing in Merauke for this year’s PON National Games, which the district will co-host with Jayapura City and the districts of Jayapura and Mimika from October 2 to October 15.

The construction and renovation of facilities at the sporting venues and the athletes village, which will be used for the country’s most prestigious multi-sport event, have nearly reached completion.

According to Merauke district head Romanu Mbaraka, the construction of facilities has reached 95 percent completion this week, and will finish before the D-day.

Papua’s PON National Games, which will feature 37 events, are expected to draw at least 6,400 athletes and 3,500 officials from 34 provinces across the country. Merauke district is scheduled to host six of the 37 events.

The six events are women’s soccer, motorcycle racing, fencing, chess, wrestling, and Wushu. The PON organizing committee has selected the Katalpal soccer stadium as the venue for the women’s soccer match. The five remaining competitions will be held in Tanah Miring sub-district’s St Yoseph Church’s complex area, Swiss-Belhotel’s ballroom, and Dispora futsal court.

The Merauke district government has worked to keep preparations for the PON National Games on track amid the ongoing threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, Mbaraka said.

Over the past few weeks, with the Delta variant of the coronavirus beginning to tighten its grip on the province, Papua has been struggling to cope with a drastic rise in COVID-19 cases.

Papua’s COVID-19 task force recently disclosed that 18 cities and districts across the province have been affected by the recent wave of infections.

Six of the affected areas are located in mountainous regions in the districts of Jayawijaya, Lanny Jaya, Tolikara, Pegunungan Bintang, Paniai, and Puncak Jaya, the task force’s spokesperson, Silwanus Sumule, said. The 12 other affected regions comprise Jayapura City and the districts of Jayapura, Merauke, Boven Digul, Asmat, Mappi, Mimika, Biak Numfor, Supiori, Kepulauan Yapen, Nabire, and Keerom.

Added to this, the Indonesian Health Ministry’s Health Research and Development Agency (Litbangkes) has confirmed cases of the more contagious and transmissible Delta variant in Merauke district.

As disclosed by the Merauke COVID-19 task force spokesperson, Neville Maskita, on July 20, 2021, the cases of the Delta variant were confirmed based on lab tests of samples sent to the agency’s laboratory.

The Litbangkes announced that the COVID-19 Delta variant had spread to Merauke, Papua, based on the lab test results, he said.

On July 22, 2021, the task force recorded 421 COVID-19 cases, with most patients placed in self-isolation and 40 hospitalized at the Merauke public hospital. Seven days later, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases fell to 326, the task force said.

The Merauke COVID-19 task force also revealed on its official website, http://covid19.merauke.go.id/, that four residents had died of the novel coronavirus disease, while 126 close contacts of COVID-19 patients had been traced, and eight persons were suspected of having contracted the infection, as of July 29.

To deal with the COVID-19 surge in the district, the task force has asked the Health Ministry for more medical oxygen and ventilators. “May the ministry meet our request,” Maskita remarked.

Owing to the ongoing threat posed by COVID-19, President Joko Widodo recently appealed to the concerned agencies to inoculate all athletes and officials participating in Papua’s PON National Games and National Para Games (Pepernas) to ensure their safety.

The head of state also instructed that local residents living near the venues of the sporting events and athletes’ villages be vaccinated, according to Youth and Sports Minister Zainudin Amali.

As part of precautionary measures, the Papua administration is planning to enforce a month-long lockdown in August this year, and has intensified mass drives to get local residents vaccinated.

To this end, the government has asked residents to be prepared for the month-long lockdown during which all entry points to Papua will be closed to curb an exponential increase in COVID-19 infections in communities.

In addition, the Papua administration is also planning to integrate the mobile application developed for the PON National Games and Peparnas with the PeduliLindungi app.

Officials from the Papua Communication and Informatics Office (Diskominfo) met with their counterparts from the Health Ministry in Jakarta on July 28, 2021 to discuss this, head of Diskominfo-Papua Office, Jeri A. Yudianto, confirmed.

Integrating the mobile apps will help the authorities trace and track COVID-19 cases in communities during the two multi-sport events, he said.

Yudianto said he expects the PON and Peparnas mobile app to be integrated with the Health Ministry’s PeduliLindungi app by the third week of August at the latest.

By integrating the app prior to the convening of the PON National Games’ delegation registration meeting, COVID-19 prevention and mitigation efforts can be optimized, he emphasized.

Source: Antara News

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