Indonesia Tries an Herbal Remedy for Covid-19

Traditional medicine has undergone no clinical trials, apparently contains aphrodisiac

Indonesia Tries an Herbal Remedy for Covid-19

Indonesia has given official approval for nationwide sale of an herbal remedy for the Covid-19 coronavirus that has been criticized by medical authorities as having few medicinal properties beyond mild relief for the respiratory system such as turmeric, mint leaves, and ginger.

The mixture, called Herbavid-19, has been okayed by the House of Representatives’ Covid-19 task force without any approval or testing by medical authorities. It has been registered and obtained a distribution permit from the National Agency of Drug and Food Control, leading medical authorities to express concern that it could lead to a sense of false security instead of practicing physical distancing, wearing masks, and seeking modern medical help.

High-intensity interventions in other countries include massive coronavirus testing with a large number of participants, and implementing mandatory and binding rules regarding maintaining physical and social distance.

Attempts to control the virus, which has affected at least 11,587 people in Indonesia and killed at least 864, were initially set back by the health minister, who said Allah would protect Indonesia’s 225 million Muslims. The government delayed testing and tracking sufferers until they started turning up in Singapore in March. So far the virus has affected 3.6 million people worldwide and killed 256,000 since it was first discovered in Wuhan, China, late last year.

No clinical trials have been initiated to assess the medical efficacy of Herbavid-19. Among other things, it is believed to contain jamu, a traditional medicine made from natural materials such as roots, bark, flowers, seeds, leaves, and fruits. Other materials such as honey, royal jelly, milk, and village chicken eggs are also often used to make up jamu, according to a description on the Internet.  It is often used as an aphrodisiac.

The Jakarta-based magazine Tempo quoted Inggrid Tania, the general chair of the Association of Indonesian Traditional Medicine and Herbal Medicine Developers, as saying the Covid-19 task force had ordered doctors to give Herbavid-19 herbs to patients although some doctors, he said, refused the request by the House of Representatives to do so, apparently out of a belief it would do no good and could supplant more science-based remedies.

Andre Rosiade, a Gerindra Party politician, said Herbavid-19 could cure Covid-19, adding that: "The appearance of Herbavid-19. Alhamdulillah (with the will of Allah), many people recovered from Covid 19 after consuming Herbavid 19.

Indonesia has stumbled from one misstep to another in its attempts to control the virus. Testing is almost non-existent, with only 427 tests per million people, so there is no real way to tell how widespread the pandemic is. The country’s medical system is rudimentary at best, with only one hospital bed for every 1,000 people, the lowest in Southeast Asia according to the World Health Organization. It only has four doctors for every 10,000 beds.

About 400 new coronavirus cases have been registered each night although it’s unknown how many there really are. Some estimates run into the tens of thousands. A Reuters investigation discovered that although the number of cases remains relatively small, funerals in Jakarta have risen substantially since the virus was first detected.

Anies Baswedan, the Jakarta governor, who is becoming a rising political rival to President Joko Widodo (above left), told a press conference in early April that 283 people had been buried between March 6 to 29 using the usual procedure for Covid-19 patients even though the government’s official death toll, announced on March 31, was only 83.

 Making matters worse, Jokowi, as the president is known, waffled on the question of allowing the Jakarta conurbation’s 30 million-odd residents to make the annual journey to their rural province homes for mudik, the traditional Eid-el-Fitr holiday that ends Ramadan. As a result, an estimated 2.1 million people left the capital before police started to put up roadblocks on April 23.

No private vehicles, buses, trains, passenger ships, and airplanes can leave or enter Jabodetabek, as the five-city conurbation is known. or other PSBB areas except ambulances, trucks carrying logistics, and vehicles related to essential services. People can still travel inside the urban area. The suspension of all domestic and international flights — commercial and charter— is effective from April 24 to June 1 except for presidents and state officials, foreign guests and representatives of countries or international organizations, and cargo or passengers related to Covid-19. 

The University of Indonesia's Faculty of Public Health (FKM UI), estimated that if mudik were to go ahead as usual, it could increase coronavirus infections on the island of Java, Indonesia’s most populous, to 1 million by May 23 – Eid al-Fitr – if 20 percent or 6.5 million residents return to their hometowns for seven days. However, that figure appears to be an overestimate. There have questions whether the government will allow those who go to their villages to come back to the capital.

"Cumulatively, the number of cases will increase to one million in May to June on Java – outside Jabodetabek- if travelers return to their villages and become carriers," said Pandu Riono, an FKM UI team member. "If people from Jabodetabek do homecoming, then (the virus) will spread in all areas including villages, where health services are very limited," said Pandu, an epidemiology expert.

The FKM UI team also predicts that if the government implements a medium scale intervention, the number of patients infected with Covid-19 in Indonesia is predicted to reach 1.3 million people with more than 47,000 deaths, whereas a high-intensity intervention would result in only 600,000 with 12,000-odd deaths. In fact, the number of those who will become affected is anybody’s guess.

Source : Asia Sentinel More   

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Australian University Sets Expulsion Hearing Date For Student Critical of China's Communist Party

Drew Pavlou has been accused of breaking university rules after being called a 'separatist' by China.

Australian University Sets Expulsion Hearing Date For Student Critical of China's Communist Party

An Australian student threatened with expulsion after he was highly critical of Beijing has been warned that he could also be removed from the University of Queensland (UQ)'s student senate later this month, as the university authorities set a date for his expulsion hearing.

"It is almost certain there will be an attempt to remove me from the UQ Senate on May 13th," UQ student Drew Pavlou said via his Twitter account. "I was elected by a majority of students on a platform supporting Hong Kong and opposing the Confucius Institute."

Pavlou said that if he is removed, a candidate supportive of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) would likely replace him.

Meanwhile, a Change.org petition in Pavlou's support had garnered more than 25,000 signatures by 2.00 p.m. GMT on Tuesday.

Pavlou said via Facebook that he also faces an expulsion hearing via video link on May 20.

Ali Amin, National Welfare Officer of the National Union of Students (Australia), tweeted: "This is some of the worst attacks on political organizing and freedom of speech I’ve ever seen from a university and sends a dangerous signal to the student union movement."

"If what they’ve alleged ... is expulsion worthy then the majority of the student union movement would be facing expulsion hearings," Amin said.

The university is taking disciplinary action against Pavlou, 20, for harming its reputation, engaging in intimidating and disrespectful conduct, and disrupting the running of the university, among other charges.

Pavlou -- who suffers from depression -- faces 11 allegations of misconduct, including activities that the authorities say breached its integrity and harassment policies and the student charter.

The authorities have presented as "evidence" of his alleged misconduct social media comments he made regarding the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong, in which he claimed to be speaking "on behalf of the university" following his election as student representative to the university senate.

Physically attacked

Pavlou has also reported being physically attacked by Chinese Communist Party supporters during a campus brawl at UQ sparked by Chinese students' opposition to a Hong Kong protest-related activity.

According to UQ, Pavlou also allegedly placed a sign on the UQ Confucius Institute -- a cultural organization embedded in campuses around the world and directly staffed and controlled by the Chinese government -- in March, declaring it was a "biohazard" amid the coronavirus epidemic, according to a post he made on Facebook.

Pavlou says he is being singled out because of his specific criticisms of UQ's relationship with China, as well as his support for the Hong Kong pro-democracy movement and for the Turkic Uyghur ethnic group, who have been subjected to mass incarceration in "re-education" camps by the CCP.

Pavlou also burned a copy of the collected works of Chinese President Xi Jinping outside the Chinese consulate in Brisbane.

Xu Jie, the Chinese Consul General in Brisbane, has previously accused Pavlou of engaging in "anti-China separatist activities." China's Global Times tabloid newspaper, published by Communist Party paper the People's Daily, has made similar claims.

Xu was awarded the post of visiting professor by UQ vice president Peter Hoj on July 12, 2019, a move which also drew criticism from Pavlou at the time.

'Using anything they can'


Feng Chongyi, a political researcher at the University of Technology in Sydney, said UQ authorities are likely trying to use anything they can find in the rulebook to expel Pavlou.

"This is exactly the same way that China suppresses freedom of speech and attacks rights activists," Feng said. "They won't make direct political accusations, but they will accuse them of something inexplicable, like picking quarrels and stirring up trouble."

He said the proceedings against Pavlou were likely a direct result of the CCP's United Front strategy to export its model of government and boost Beijing's influence overseas.

"The principal is very pro-CCP indeed, and the CCP regime has many agents in place overseas," Feng said. "A lot of Australian universities have undertaken joint research programs with [Chinese state-backed institutions] and opened Confucius Institutes when they lack funding."

"But the benefit of this increased income comes at the cost of silencing any voices that speak out against the CCP's dictatorial regime," he said.

Wu Lebao, an international student at the Australian National University, said there had been cases in recent years of Australian teachers and lecturers being forced to apologize to China after referring to Taiwan as a country -- an idea that is anathema to Beijing -- and sparking angry protests from Chinese students.

"There have been a lot of these cases in the past few years, where teachers touch on topics sensitive to mainland China in the classroom," Wu said.

"Fewer and fewer teachers in Australia are willing to touch on these sensitive topics at all now," he said.

Public opinion shifting

Public opinion may be shifting to a warier position, however, as Australian media have repeatedly reported that Chinese companies and individuals under the aegis of the CCP's United Front shipped crucial personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies to China from Australia at the start of the coronavirus pandemic in central China.

Australian author and professor of public ethics Clive Hamilton’s book, Silent Invasion: China’s Influence in Australia, was initially turned down by three publishers citing fears of reprisals from Beijing.

Finally published in February 2018, Silent Invasion argues that Australia’s elites, and parts of the country’s large Chinese-Australian diaspora, have been mobilized by Beijing to gain access to politicians, limit academic freedom, intimidate critics, gather information for Chinese intelligence agencies, and organize protests against Australian government policy.

According to Reuters, the Chinese Communist Party was behind a massive cyber attack on the Australian national parliament ahead of May's general election.

The agency cited the country's cyber intelligence agency, the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD), as saying that Beijing was responsible for the attack on the parliament and the three largest political parties, and that it had originated with the Ministry of State Security in Beijing. The findings were initially kept secret to avoid damaging trade ties.

Canberra last year said it would crack down on suspected Chinese Communist Party influencers in the country following the introduction of new laws targeting activities by lobbyists and agents of foreign governments in June 2018, and later denied a passport to a top Chinese businessman.

In February 2019, the authorities rejected the citizenship application of a prominent Chinese billionaire and revoked his permanent residency there over concerns about his ties to Beijing.

Huang Xiangmo had made donations of nearly U.S. $1.9 million to political parties in Australia over the five years prior to lodging his application.

Reported by Gao Feng for RFA's Mandarin Service, and by the Cantonese Service. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

Source : Radio Free Asia More   

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