JAKARTA - Main hospitals in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta have reported full occupancy, with some having a waiting list of up to 20 confirmed Covid-19 patients seeking treatment, as cases continue to surge in the country.
To ease the pressure on the hospitals in the city of more than 10 million, the government is making more rooms available at Jakarta's Wisma Atlet, an athlete's residence converted into a hospital for coronavirus patients with mild symptoms.
The government is also set to tap three-star hotels in the capital as centralised quarantine centres for asymptomatic patients.
The capital has 190 hospitals, according to Jakarta governor Anies Baswedan.
Earlier this month, the country's Covid-19 spokesman Wiku Adisasmito said Jakarta's 67 Covid-19 referral hospitals had an occupancy rate of 77 per cent, with 69 per cent of intensive care unit beds already occupied.
Six Covid-19 designated hospitals contacted by The Straits Times on Sunday (Sept 20) and Monday said the number of inpatients have spiked, especially since August.
The city-run Pasar Minggu Hospital had 20 coronavirus-confirmed patients waiting for a bed last Saturday, according to the hospital management.
They said that all 220 beds were occupied, with the hospital preparing 80 more beds for Covid-19 patients.
At the state-owned Pertamina hospital in the Kebayoran Baru area, 13 confirmed patients were on the waiting list on Monday, with more than 300 beds already occupied.
Meanwhile, the Medistra private hospital in the city centre has been running at full capacity for about two weeks.
ST understands that patient turnover at public hospitals is slower than at private hospitals, with public hospital management allowing those with coronavirus to remain in hospital for longer periods.
This is despite the patients showing signs of recovery. Critics say the result is that those who need urgent treatment are being deprived of care in the public hospitals.
At private hospitals, there is an incentive for the management to discharge recovering patients in a more timely manner.
These hospitals are reimbursed by the government based on the number of inpatients the private hospitals have seen, regardless of their length of stay.
A check on Monday with two private hospitals in Jakarta - Pondok Indah and MMC - and the government-run Sulianti Saroso Infectious Diseases Hospital showed all were running at full capacity.
Indonesia has recorded 252,923 confirmed Covid-19 cases, of which 64,554 were from Jakarta as of Tuesday.
The number of deaths totalled 9,837 nationwide.
But the government has repeatedly guaranteed it has the capacity to treat all coronavirus patients, offering the Wisma Atlet option for those with mild symptoms.
Hospitals contacted by ST say they have been referring asymptomatic patients and those with mild to moderate symptoms to Wisma Atlet, which is not as well-equipped as hospitals.
The athletes' village has 10 towers, with four being used to treat Covid-19 patients.
On Monday, the newly converted fourth tower, which has a 1,500-bed capacity, started to take in asymptomatic patients and those with mild symptoms.
Another tower in the village is being used for the same kind of patients, while the two remaining towers are for those with mild to moderate symptoms.
Each tower can accommodate between 1,300 and 1,500 beds.
Wisma Atlet was opened for coronavirus patients in March with 3,000 beds, but its total capacity can be expanded to hold 24,000 beds in all.
Meanwhile, more than 16,000 medical interns and volunteers have been deployed to help treat patients and handle test labs, Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto said last week.
In a statement on Monday, the Tourism Ministry said a total of 30 hotels in Jakarta can be tapped as centralised quarantine centres to accommodate asymptomatic patients.
The ministry said all related costs including doctor visits, medicine, and laundry will be covered by the national government.
Indonesia is shifting from home isolation to a centralised-quarantine system to deal with asymptomatic people, after the country noted an increasing number of transmissions among family members and neighbours.
Observers estimate between 30 per cent and 40 per cent of all infected individuals in Indonesia may show no symptoms.
"Hotel staff would be trained so they won't be scared doing their job. They would have to apply strict health protocols," said Dr Iwan Trihapsoro, an adviser to the country's health minister.
However, hotel staff with pre-existing health conditions will work from home.
Anyone testing positive for the coronavirus but is asymptomatic may turn up at the referral hotel with their ID card and test result.
They are not allowed to leave the facility for 14 days and will not be allowed visitors.
"Patients with no symptoms or light symptoms should not isolate themselves at home so they would not spread the virus to family members as well as people in the neighbourhood," Dr Iwan said.
On Monday, Indonesia reported its religious minister Fachrul Razi had contracted the coronavirus, the third minister stricken with Covid-19. He received his result on Sept 17.
Transport minister Budi Karya and Maritime and Fishery Affairs minister Edhy Prabowo have since recovered. Both needed treatment in ICU wards.