Tibar residents protest the opening of a coronavirus isolation site at a local clinic on March 8. Sign reads: "Our Tibar community will not accept coronavirus".(Image/Domingos Piedade Freitas)

TIBAR, 18 March 2020 (TATOLI) — The Ministry of Health (MS), along with the World Health Organisation, has launched a renewed bid to calm community members at Tibar, after angry protests there last week.

The Director of Health Provision at MS, Odete Viegas da Silva, said the “sensitisation” sessions with residents were important, because communities must have “detailed knowledge” on how to stay safe from worldwide pandemics.

MS Director of Health Provision, Odete Viegas da Silva (Image/WHO)

“We want to be clear that this is not only the responsibility of the Ministry, but the responsibility of all citizens,” she said.

The protests last Sunday were sparked by a decision by health authorities to earmark an empty women’s shelter in the town, west of Dili, as a quarantine site for suspected Covid-19 patients.

Police Commissioner Faustino da Costa told reporters the day after the confrontation that the group blocked health officials from driving into the site, including Vice-Minister Elia dos Reis Amáral.

“The community members protested enthusiastically because they do not accept the government setting up an isolation centre.”

“The crowd tried to break into accommodation units, but officers managed to disperse the crowd with tear gas around 11 o’clock, after four hours of uproar,” the commissioner said on March 9.

Related news: Police Fire Teargas at Crowd Attempting to Block Coronavirus Quarantine Site

Some of the Covid-19 public health flyers that the WHO has distributed in Tetum (Image/WHO)

Both the Ministry of Health and World Health Organisation have met with the Tibar community, and others in Timor-Leste, to spread awareness of the virus and how to stop its transmission.

“We chose Tibar because it is far from the city-centre, and the residence is not being used by the government. For these reasons there was no other option to the Ministry of Health at the time,” Ms Odete said.

She added that everyone should practice good hygiene to stop the spread of the virus: cover your mouth with your elbow when you cough; wash your hands thoroughly and regularly with soap; cover your sneezes; keep at least 1-metre from people coughing or sneezing, and be sure to thoroughly cook your food.

 

Read the original Tetum here: MS ho OMS Sensibiliza Informasaun Kona-ba COVID-19 ba Komunidade Tibar

Journalist: Felicidade Ximenes

Editors: Andrew Kaminsky; Robert Baird; Agapito dos Santos

Translation: Nelia Borges

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