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Indonesia declares public health emergency, suspends foreign arrivals

Published: (Updated: ) in Australian News by .

Indonesia has declared a public health emergency over the coronavirus epidemic and will spend an additional $US24.9 billion to cushion its impact.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has declared a public health emergency over the coronavirus epidemic and said an additional 407 trillion rupiah ($40.8 billion) would be spent to cushion its impact on Southeast Asia's biggest economy.

Widodo said he signed a new regulation that "gives financial authorities the power to take extraordinary steps to ensure public health, save the national economy and the financial system".

READ MORE: Stay up-to-date with rolling 9News coverage of the coronavirus crisis

The regulation would waive a cap on a maximum budget deficit for three years, he said.

"The government decided that the total additional spending to manage COVID-19 is as much as 405.1 trillion rupiah," he said adding that this will widen the 2020 budget deficit to as much as 5.07 per cent of gross domestic product, the widest in more than a decade.

The stimulus package includes a 3-percentage-point reduction in the corporate tax rate to 22 per cent, he said.

Other measures include expanding social welfare to benefit up to 10 million households, food assistance and electricity tariff discounts and waivers, he told reporters.

Shortly after Widodo's announcement, the central bank trimmed its 2020 gross domestic product growth outlook for a third time this year, to 2.3 per cent-2.5 per cent, from the latest 4.2 per cent-4.6 per cent, taking into account the government's new measures, Governor Perry Warjiyo told a call with investors.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Indonesia could be headed for 'full-blown disaster'

The new growth forecast is the weakest since 2001 and compares with 5.02 per cent in 2019.

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Warjiyo also warned there would be short-term economic contraction due to curbs on people's mobility, after Widodo ordered "large-scale social limits" and stricter rules on physical distancing on Monday.

Medical experts have said Indonesia, the world's fourth-most-populous country, must impose tighter restrictions on movements. Known cases of the disease have gone from none in early March to 1528, with 136 deaths.

Indonesia suspended all foreign arrivals on Tuesday after a study showed more than 140,000 people in the country could die of the virus without tougher action.

READ MORE: Australia's coronavirus social gathering and distancing restrictions extended

Fear about the disease and its impact on livelihoods is spreading.

"The impact of the virus can be felt a lot already," said Ajun, 46, a motor-bike driver for ride-hailing app Gojek.

He said he used to get up to 20 jobs a day before the outbreak but now got five at most.

"I'm scared ... but I have a family that I have to provide for ... where would I get money from?" said the father of two.

– Reported with AAP.

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Source: 9News

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