Around 1.8 million doses of Sinovac vaccine arrives at Soekarno Hatta International Airport on Dec. 31. This adds to the 1.2 million shots that arrived on Dec. 6. (Photo courtesy of presidenri.go.id)
Catholic and Protestant leaders in Indonesia have called on Christians not to lose hope almost a year after the Covid-19 pandemic arrived in the country.
Indonesia has been hit hard by the pandemic since early March last year. Ten months on, the country had recorded 772,103 Covid-19 cases and 22,734 deaths.
“We just said goodbye to 2020 which was full of challenges. It was a tough year because the Covid-19 pandemic left us suffering and sorrowful,” Reverend Gomar Gultom, chairman of the Communion of Churches in Indonesia (PGI), said in a statement received by UCA News on Jan. 4.
“The Covid-19 pandemic continues to haunt us, but we must not be pessimistic. Instead, we must see this situation as the right moment to spread love. With this spirit, we must maintain hope so that the Covid-19 pandemic will not lead us into despair.
“We should thank God for the coronavirus vaccine acquired by the government. We should support the national Covid-19 vaccination program.”
The government, through its state-owned pharmaceutical company Bio Farma, began distributing three million doses of Covid-19 vaccine developed by China’s Sinovac Biotech and approved for emergency use by the Drug and Food Control Agency to all of Indonesia’s 34 provinces on Jan. 3.
The government wants to vaccinate at least 181 million of the country’s 270 million population, with health workers given top priority.
Referring to the program, Father Paulus Christian Siswantoko, a member of the Jakarta-based Catholic Network Against Covid-19, reminded Catholics to continue observing health protocols.
“Do not be careless. The government has made a tremendous effort [to protect the people], we must pay serious attention to it. Hopefully, the program will help rid us of Covid-19,” he told UCA News.
The priest, who is also executive secretary of the Indonesian bishops’ Commission for the Laity, also called on Catholics to build solidarity.
“Solidarity brings hope that we can get through this situation together. Never be afraid,” he said.