President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo has come under increased pressure to impose a partial lockdown on virus-plagued areas, with scientists saying the country is racing against time to curb the spread of COVID-19 before Idul Fitri and that a community quarantine could be the only solution to do exactly that. The President has said that he will not impose a lockdown even though two of Indonesia’s neighbors—Malaysia and the Philippines— and several European countries have decided to take the drastic measure to slow the transmission of the disease.As officials scrambled to prevent wider transmission of the novel coronavirus that has spread to at least eight provinces, infecting more than 130 and killed at least five people, Jokowi stressed the government was “not leaning toward issuing a lockdown policy” at this time. “I have to emphasize that issuing a lockdown policy, either at the national or regional level, is under the authority of the central government. Such a policy cannot be issued by regional administrations,” he told a press conference on Monday.Read also: Govt calls for coordination with regional administrations to curb COVID-19 spreadJokowi’s remark came as tensions grew between the central government and regional governments over different approaches to handling the pandemic. Several regional leaders, including Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan, have already taken stricter containment measures, such as restricting transportation services, while the President merely advised people to stay home and practice social distancing. The conflicting policies between Anies and Jokowi backfired on Monday when commuters defied Jokowi’s call to stay at home, packing bus stops and train stations —due to limited services— and fueling concerns of more contagion in the capital. Topics : With most confirmed cases located in the capital, Anies has argued that a partial lockdown is needed to keep the city safe. “We believe Jakarta should have stopped activities in the capital and prevented people from coming or leaving the city. We cannot decide this ourselves,” he said, adding that he needed to “act fast”. The Malang administration in East Java briefly imposed a lockdown on Monday before annulling the policy after Jokowi’s apparent reprimand. As Indonesian authorities squabbled over the policy, Malaysian Prime Minister announced a two-week partial lockdown nationwide after the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country rose to more than 500 in a single day on Monday. Many of the country’s infections have been linked to a global Islamic event held last month and attended by almost 20,000 people, AFP reported. Malaysian authorities said participants at the gathering from Feb. 27 to March 1 had come from Bangladesh, Brunei, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand. About 700 Indonesians also attended the event, according to The Strait Times. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte made the decision to quarantine Manila’s 12 million people to contain the deadly virus last Thursday. During a nationally televised address, Duterte also announced a month of school closures, ban on mass gatherings and prohibition on the entry of foreigners from places where the contagion had spread, AFP reported. France is the latest European country to enforce a lockdown after the virus infected tens of thousands and killed thousands, most of whom were Italians, on the continent. Calls for a lockdown come amid concerns that the Indonesian government has failed to act fast to prevent the spread of the virus at an early stage and appears to have no clear strategy or willingness to carry out massive testing on suspected coronavirus-positive patients for a limited quarantine. As of Monday, Indonesia has only tested 1,230 people , while South Korea has tested more than 200,000 people, allowing it to conduct effective tracing and contain the spread of the virus without having to impose a nationwide lockdown. A group of scientists from the Indonesian Young Scientist Forum (YSF) has called on the Jokowi administration to impose a partial lockdown on certain areas to prevent sustained community transmission before Idul Fitri, during which millions of Muslims travel to their hometowns to celebrate the religious festivity. The group argued that Indonesia might have entered the second phase of the epidemic, in which community transmission has occurred, with many people unaware they have been infected and tracing cases becoming harder to do. “It is now time for a [partial] lockdown as it has become a pandemic,” Fenny Dwivanily, a molecular biologist at the Bandung Institute of Technology and a member of the YSF.Read also: Scientists call for lockdown to contain COVID-19 ahead of Ramadan, ‘mudikThe President has the legal basis to impose a partial lockdown. The 2018 Health Quarantine Law stipulates that community quarantine or partial lockdown “is imposed on all members of an area if a laboratory test confirms that community transmission has occurred in the said area.” Chairul Anwar Nidom, the chair of Airlangga University’s Avian Influenza Research Center, said a lockdown could be done not based on administrative areas and could even be done on each island. “This is a huge task, but it could be done,” he said. “On Java, for instance, with the assumption that 1 percent of the population is at risk of being infected then the government needs to have health facilities for around 1 million patients,” he said. “Java becomes a quarantined single area. All governors and regents will work together and will not issue different policies.”
Head coach John Carver was grateful for Newcastle’s decision not to sell striker Papiss Cisse in January after he fired the club to their first home win of 2015 against Aston Villa. “This season, he has probably scored more scruffy goals than he ever has, but I am not bothered because he is actually scoring goals. That’s why it was important to keep him here and that’s why it was important to get him in the team and put him in the right area.” The decisive moment arrived against the run of play with 37 minutes gone, with the quality of Daryl Janmaat’s cross and Cisse’s control and finish, if not Jores Okore’s defending, out of keeping with a poor game. Substitute Ayoze Perez might have added a second with a 76th-minute header which came back off the post, but, had it not been for two Tim Krul saves from Christian Benteke and Tom Cleverley either side of the break, Villa would have emerged with something to show for their efforts. It was just Newcastle’s second league win in eight attempts under Carver and, while it was unconvincing, it was definitely welcome. The head coach said: “The one thing I will so is we did actually show that professionalism that we didn’t show against Stoke City when we conceded the late goal, so maybe the guys have learned from it. “Let’s not hide the fact that today has not been a classic, has it? It’s not been a proper classic.. But I’ll tell you what, the thing that’s pleased me is we have kept a clean sheet, we have had players who have put their bodies on the line – and I have to mention Fabricio Coloccini in particular. “His block towards the end of the games was outstanding. That’s as good as scoring a goal at the other end.” For Villa boss Tim Sherwood, there were positives to take from a seventh successive league defeat as he prepares for next week’s double header against derby rivals West Brom. The Senegal international was the subject of interest from the Middle East during the winter transfer window, but the Magpies hierarchy supported Carver’s desire to keep him and were rewarded when he struck to secure a 1-0 victory at St James’ Park with his 11th goal of the season. Carver said: “His goal ratio is fantastic – but we have got to provide him with the service. If we don’t provide him with the service, then he won’t score goals, so I need to make sure that the team provides him with service because he is valuable to us. Press Association He said: “That [the performance] is a consolation, yes, but it’s still no points, so I want a really poor performance on Tuesday night and three points, please. “But listen, two wins this week and we will bounce into the next game. We need a shot of confidence here. There’s not a lack of desire in that dressing room. The boys really care, they really do care – they are low in there. “A lot of managers try to take the pressure off you – I think Paul Lambert has probably been trying to do that to the guys all season. I’m going to try the other way, I am going to put in on them, ‘We’re under pressure, boys, we are under pressure, this is a massive football club with a lot of good people involved in it and the fans are magnificent’. “The pressure valve is up already; let’s put pressure on ourselves to try to get points in these last few games.” Meanwhile, Carver revealed that the knee injury which forced left-back Massadio Haidara off on a stretcher is not thought to be too serious.
The swollen thorns house ants that help protect acacia trees from elephants. The fourth native species, Tetraponera penzigi, however, has a passive-aggressive strategy for monopolizing the trees it inhabits. With no taste for nectar, T. penzigi destroys the nectaries, reducing the appeal of the tree to other species. (T. penzigi harvests fungal spores and pollen and farms fungus.) And unlike Crematogaster, when T. penzigi are attacked, they retreat into the swollen thorns and defend them with stingers.Regardless of how they fight each other, all the species will defend the tree from elephants and other herbivores. And thus it has been for millennia. But about 4 years ago, researchers in central Kenya became aware of the arrival of the bigheaded ant (Pheidole megacephala). No one knows where the bigheaded ant originally came from, perhaps southern Africa or Madagascar. But it’s clear that it is a persistent and highly successful invader. Living in supercolonies that cooperate, they have devastated all manner of insects on several continents. “Anything they can attack, they will destroy,” says Todd Palmer, an ecologist at the University of Florida in Gainesville.To understand the threat to the native ants, Palmer and colleagues wanted to witness an attack on acacia trees. They cut down 16 small trees, each inhabited by a single species of native ant, from a part of the savanna not yet invaded. Then they trucked the trees—ants and all—to the Mpala Research Center in central Kenya, which has a high density of bigheaded ants.Soon, columns of bigheaded ants streamed into the trees. Crematogaster ants sent an alarm, calling other ants out of the swollen thorns. Although Crematogaster ants are five times larger than bigheaded ants, they were overwhelmed within an hour or two. Swarms of attackers grabbed Crematogaster ants by the legs, pulling them spread-eagle and cutting them up. As the Crematogaster troops fell, the invasion front moved up the trees. “The bigheaded ants just keep coming,” Palmer says. “They are unstoppable.” When bigheaded ants reached the Crematogaster nests inside the swollen thorns, they pulled out the brood and brought them back to their own nests. There, they fed them to their larvae.T. penzigi fared better. They hastily retreated into the swollen thorns, staying inside for up to a month. If caught outside, they flattened themselves and froze. Attacking ants seemed to not recognize them as ants, Palmer says, perhaps because of a chemical camouflage. “It’s the most timid ant that can withstand the battle,” he says. They may even profit: It seems that the extirpation of the three species of Crematogaster opens up other trees that T. penzigi can sneak into; Palmer and colleagues found a much higher density of T. penzigi where the bigheaded ants had invaded, they report in an article posted online in Ecology. The same behaviors were seen in laboratory experiments with the various species. “The study itself proved far more interesting than I dared expect, with our staged ant battles reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings battle scenes,” says first author Corinna Riginos, a research ecologist at the Teton Research Institute of Teton Science Schools, Jackson, Wyoming, who designed the study. Two species of Crematogaster fight each other for possession of an acacia tree. Rob Pringle Todd Palmer Call it Game of Thorns. A prickly tree that grows in the clay-rich soils of East Africa recruits stinging ants to defend itself from gnawing giraffes and marauding bull elephants. In return, the trees provide nectar and shelter—swollen thorns—for the insects. The rewards are so attractive that, in a drama reminiscent of a medieval fantasy TV show, four native ant species battle each other to inhabit the trees. But according to a new study, this warring kingdom is under siege by an even more violent outsider. The consequences could affect elephants, other large wildlife, and perhaps the future of iconic reserves such as Serengeti National Park.The tree in question is called the whistling thorn acacia (Acacia drepanolobium). These trees have evolved a mutualistic relationship with native ants. When herbivores try to strip away its leaves or moody elephants attempt to rip off branches, the ants rush out of their arboreal homes to bite and sting the threatening animal. Elephants have such an aversion to the ants that they will avoid eating the acacia, which helps prevent the woody savanna from becoming a grassland.The ecology of this system is fascinating. The four species of native ants compete ferociously with each other to occupy each tree. Three species, in the genus Crematogaster, feast on nectar that the tree produces for them in specialized organs called nectaries. Jacked up on sugar, they will rush to fight any foreign ant, curling around it and clenching the abdomen in a death grip with their bodies.Sign up for our daily newsletterGet more great content like this delivered right to you!Country *AfghanistanAland IslandsAlbaniaAlgeriaAndorraAngolaAnguillaAntarcticaAntigua and BarbudaArgentinaArmeniaArubaAustraliaAustriaAzerbaijanBahamasBahrainBangladeshBarbadosBelarusBelgiumBelizeBeninBermudaBhutanBolivia, Plurinational State ofBonaire, Sint Eustatius and SabaBosnia and HerzegovinaBotswanaBouvet IslandBrazilBritish Indian Ocean TerritoryBrunei DarussalamBulgariaBurkina FasoBurundiCambodiaCameroonCanadaCape VerdeCayman IslandsCentral African RepublicChadChileChinaChristmas IslandCocos (Keeling) IslandsColombiaComorosCongoCongo, The Democratic Republic of theCook IslandsCosta RicaCote D’IvoireCroatiaCubaCuraçaoCyprusCzech RepublicDenmarkDjiboutiDominicaDominican RepublicEcuadorEgyptEl SalvadorEquatorial GuineaEritreaEstoniaEthiopiaFalkland Islands (Malvinas)Faroe IslandsFijiFinlandFranceFrench GuianaFrench PolynesiaFrench Southern TerritoriesGabonGambiaGeorgiaGermanyGhanaGibraltarGreeceGreenlandGrenadaGuadeloupeGuatemalaGuernseyGuineaGuinea-BissauGuyanaHaitiHeard Island and Mcdonald IslandsHoly See (Vatican City State)HondurasHong KongHungaryIcelandIndiaIndonesiaIran, Islamic Republic ofIraqIrelandIsle of ManIsraelItalyJamaicaJapanJerseyJordanKazakhstanKenyaKiribatiKorea, Democratic People’s Republic ofKorea, Republic ofKuwaitKyrgyzstanLao People’s Democratic RepublicLatviaLebanonLesothoLiberiaLibyan Arab JamahiriyaLiechtensteinLithuaniaLuxembourgMacaoMacedonia, The Former Yugoslav Republic ofMadagascarMalawiMalaysiaMaldivesMaliMaltaMartiniqueMauritaniaMauritiusMayotteMexicoMoldova, Republic ofMonacoMongoliaMontenegroMontserratMoroccoMozambiqueMyanmarNamibiaNauruNepalNetherlandsNew CaledoniaNew ZealandNicaraguaNigerNigeriaNiueNorfolk IslandNorwayOmanPakistanPalestinianPanamaPapua New GuineaParaguayPeruPhilippinesPitcairnPolandPortugalQatarReunionRomaniaRussian FederationRWANDASaint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da CunhaSaint Kitts and NevisSaint LuciaSaint Martin (French part)Saint Pierre and MiquelonSaint Vincent and the GrenadinesSamoaSan MarinoSao Tome and PrincipeSaudi ArabiaSenegalSerbiaSeychellesSierra LeoneSingaporeSint Maarten (Dutch part)SlovakiaSloveniaSolomon IslandsSomaliaSouth AfricaSouth Georgia and the South Sandwich IslandsSouth SudanSpainSri LankaSudanSurinameSvalbard and Jan MayenSwazilandSwedenSwitzerlandSyrian Arab RepublicTaiwanTajikistanTanzania, United Republic ofThailandTimor-LesteTogoTokelauTongaTrinidad and TobagoTunisiaTurkeyTurkmenistanTurks and Caicos IslandsTuvaluUgandaUkraineUnited Arab EmiratesUnited KingdomUnited StatesUruguayUzbekistanVanuatuVenezuela, Bolivarian Republic ofVietnamVirgin Islands, BritishWallis and FutunaWestern SaharaYemenZambiaZimbabweI also wish to receive emails from AAAS/Science and Science advertisers, including information on products, services and special offers which may include but are not limited to news, careers information & upcoming events.Required fields are included by an asterisk(*) The invasion could have consequences beyond the fate of the native ants. Crematogaster do the best job defending acacia trees. T. penzigi is less effective, and the bigheaded ants won’t fight anything much bigger than a human thumb. Without native ants to guard them, Riginos and Palmer wondered, would acacia trees suffer more harm from elephants?They examined three sites invaded by the bigheaded ants and found five times as many acacia trees with moderate or worse damage from elephants, relative to uninvaded sites. The mutualistic relationship between the ants and the acacia, by mediating elephant damage, is a key influence on the amount of tree cover in the savanna. So the breakdown of the relationship is a significant threat to a landscape that includes Serengeti, Maasai Mara, and Nairobi national parks, Palmer says. “It is a substantial effect they are seeing,” says Han Olff, an ecosystem ecologist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands who was not involved in the research.The influence of the bigheaded ant is unlikely to be apocalyptic or vast, though. Johan du Toit, an ecologist at Utah State University in Logan—who was not involved in the paper—says that the consequence of losing these native ant species will likely be limited to the area where this acacia species is dominant and elephant are abundant, particularly Kenya and Tanzania. “Even for this acacia, losing the ants doesn’t mean it will be completely eaten up by elephants,” he says. “It’s a pretty resilient tree.” Olff adds that it can be difficult to predict exactly how the ecosystem will respond to the perturbation.The next step, Palmer says, is to look at how this invasion affects landscapes where various kinds of wildlife are present or absent. It’s possible that when elephants are not around, the trees may actually benefit from an invasion by the bigheaded ant, because they wouldn’t need to produce nectar for native species and could use the energy to grow instead.The key message is the need to improve biosecurity to prevent such invasions, says Lori Lach, a community ecologist at James Cook University, Cairns, in Australia. “We can’t be complacent about invasive ant spread, even of species that have mostly fallen off the radar of active management around the world,” she says. “Our best chance at preventing detrimental effects by invasive ants is by increasing investment in biosecurity and by detecting and destroying them at borders.”*Update, 8 September, 3:05 p.m.: This article has been updated to reflect the fact that Corinna Riginos played the primary role in the research.