Indonesia's doctors call for Covid-19 lockdown in Java, Bali to be extended

Some 114 doctors died of Covid-19 from July 1 to July 17. PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA - The mitigation team of the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) on Sunday (July 18) called for the extension of a partial lockdown on Java and Bali islands as the rise in daily Covid-19 cases remains significant.

The restrictions must be kept in place to avert a functional collapse in Indonesia's healthcare system, already marked by overcrowded emergency wards, the setting up of tents to increase hospital capacity, limited supply of medicine and oxygen, and declining number of health workers due to infections, said Dr Adib Khumaidi, head of the mitigation team, which reports directly to the Indonesian health minister.

The number of active cases rose by nearly 100,000 in just three days from Tuesday to more than 500,000 on Friday and, if the situation continues, it will hasten the collapse of the healthcare system, he added.

"Based on the data we have, a number of hospitals are still overloaded. Therefore, we hope these (restrictions) will be extended," Dr Adib told reporters.

"We've also received reports from regions outside Java and Bali where cases have begun to climb. There should be an effort to expand (the restrictions) to regions with potential surge in cases."

Some 114 doctors died of Covid-19 from July 1 to July 17, compared with 51 in the whole of June, said the mitigation team. Some 545 doctors have died since the start of the pandemic.

The team also proposed other mitigation measures, such as increasing the number of field hospitals and encouraging patients with mild or no symptoms to self-isolate after consulting doctors.

To resolve the shortage of oxygen supply, Indonesia has purchased oxygen concentrators from Singapore. It has also received aid from countries, including Singapore and Australia.

Deputy Health Minister Dante Saksono Harbuwono told a press briefing last Saturday that Indonesia would also import drugs from China, India and Switzerland to ensure the availability of the much needed medicines for Covid-19 patients.

Under the partial lockdown, which took effect on July 3 and is due to end on Tuesday, grocery stores and supermarkets on Java and Bali islands, which account for two-thirds of Covid-19 cases nationwide, have to limit customers to half their capacity and close by 8pm.

Public places such as shopping malls, parks and places of worship have been ordered to close, and eateries can only provide takeaway service or deliveries.

The partial lockdown has been expanded to 15 regencies and cities outside Java and Bali since July 12.

The government's Covid-19 task force has advised Indonesians in the places under partial lockdown, as well as high- and moderate-risk zones throughout the country, to pray at home on Hari Raya Haji and not to travel.

On Saturday, Mr Luhut Pandjaitan, a senior minister overseeing the emergency restrictions, said the government would decide on whether to extend or relax restrictions in the next two days.

Indonesia, which overtook India last week as the new epicentre of the pandemic in Asia, reported 44,721 cases on Sunday, bringing the total infections to 2.88 million. Deaths rose by 1,093, pushing up the total fatalities to 73,582.

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