JAKARTA, Indonesia

Indonesia will hold local elections next month with strict COVID-19 protocols in place, the country’s election commission said on Wednesday.

The General Election Commissions said the local elections will be held on Dec. 9 in 270 constituencies with around 100 million registered voters.

The government is expecting 77.5% turnout in the polls.

“Physical contacts between voters, as well as between voters and officers will be restricted. We will also limit the number of voters entering the polling station,” Ilham Saputra, a commission official, said at a news conference.

He said that all voters and officers are required to wear masks, and polling stations are obliged to provide disposable gloves and handwashing facilities.

Saputra said the election commission will facilitate coronavirus patients to cast their votes from hospitals or quarantine facilities, adding that all officers will be tested for the virus ahead of the voting day.

Also speaking at the news conference, Riris Andono Ahmad, a health expert from Gadjah Mada University, said it is hard to ensure that there will be no new cluster after the election.

However, he said imposing strict health protocol could at least reduce the risk of infection.

Ahmad pointed out that neighboring country Malaysia saw a significant surge in COVID-19 cases after a local election in Sabah state on Sept. 26.

“Since May, Malaysia was able to control the transmission and flatten the curve, but after the election, there was an unusually increase in number of cases,” he added.

Indonesia has so far recorded 448,118 COVID-19 cases with 14,836 deaths, while 378,982 patients have recovered, according to the Health Ministry.

*Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian-language service in Jakarta.

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