Renewed calls for nationwide lockdown in Indonesia as more doctors die of Covid-19

Thirty doctors have died of Covid-19 so far this month in Indonesia. PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA - Thirty doctors have died of Covid-19 so far this month in Indonesia, as the country battles a second wave of infections driven by the Delta variant, triggering renewed calls to impose a nationwide lockdown or risk a dire situation such as that in India.

In a statement on Sunday (June 27), the Indonesian medical doctors' association (IDI) appealed to the government to impose a hard lockdown of at least two weeks, especially in Java, adding that maximum enforcement is required.

Java is the most populous island where the capital Jakarta is located.

Dr Adib Khumaidi, head of IDI's mitigation team, flagged some grim statistics in several epicentres in Java at an online briefing.

He said Kudus, the smallest regency, has recorded 231 doctors currently hospitalised or serving self-quarantine at home. Yogyakarta, Surabaya and Jakarta are also among the regions that have seen high casualty numbers among doctors.

The 30 doctors who died this month included four on Sunday, bringing the total death toll for doctors since the pandemic started to 405, according to IDI.

The country's total number of Covid-19 cases is now 2.12 million, and the total death toll is 57,138.

Dr Adib warned of the possibility of a dire outbreak in Indonesia, such as that in India, citing as reasons the country's overloaded hospitals and a testing rate lower than India's.

"Merely adding (hospital) beds isn't enough. (Adequate) medical human resources is key. The current situation is that a lot of our fellow medical workers are infected, doing self-isolation, hospitalised," Dr Adib said.

He added that a number of hospitals could be considered as having collapsed, warning that if no drastic step is taken, the whole healthcare system could also collapse.

India had its first surge last September when its total number of active cases soared above one million, before going down to around 137,000 in mid-February. The cases then spiked again and reached the peak of around 3.7 million in May as pandemic fatigue set in and people flouted restriction rules.

On Friday, Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin announced that the government will convert more hospital beds to treat Covid-19 patients, and at least two major, newly built government-subsidised housing towers in the capital will be turned into facilities to treat patients with mild symptoms.

On Sunday, calls to impose a large-scale lockdown - rather than the current localised lockdowns - also came from the legislative branch, with Parliament's health committee deputy chairman Charles Honoris issuing a statement telling the government to at least impose a hard lockdown in Java.

Indonesia's epidemiological curve is described as "nearly being a vertical line, resembling that of India's in April", Mr Charles said in a text message to The Straits Times last evening.

Meanwhile, Indonesia on Sunday issued an emergency use approval for the Sinovac vaccine to be administered to people aged between 12 and 18.

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