JAKARTA: Indonesian Rudi Zafar, 31, might barely breathe and stroll at the top of June after testing constructive for COVID-19.
Despite his weak situation, for days he went from one hospital to the opposite to search medical remedy in his hometown Bekasi on the outskirts of capital Jakarta.
He even went to Jakarta but all hospitals had been full and unable to admit him.
Mr Zafar’s oxygen saturation had dropped to under 90, but he had no choice aside from staying at home.
His neighbours offered him with an oxygen tank, but he was nonetheless breathless.
“There was no progress. My chest still felt tight, and my saturation kept dropping to 85,” he advised CNA on Jul 13.
Mr Zafar was one in every of many in Indonesia who have been recognized with COVID-19 but couldn’t entry remedy in the hospitals due to overcapacity.
As the nation constantly clogged record-breaking COVID-19 caseload, many areas skilled a rise of greater than 200 per cent cases.
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With greater than 2.9 million COVID-19 cases and 77,500 deaths up to now, Indonesia has overtaken India as Asia’s epicentre of COVID-19. On Wednesday (Jul 21), it reported 33,772 new infections and record-high 1,383 deaths.
Experts have expressed considerations that the precise caseload could be larger than the official numbers. They claimed that cases usually are not correctly recorded and reported, and testing and tracing capacities stay restricted.
Hospitals in Indonesia are nearly full, stated Dr Lia Partakusuma, secretary-general of the Association of Hospitals in Indonesia on Jul 5 in a listening to at the parliament, particularly on Java island the place the mattress occupancy fee (BOR) of many hospitals has reached 90 per cent.
People have been urged to isolate at home except they’re severely in poor health. To be certain that people who find themselves self-isolating at home nonetheless obtain medical care, the federal government has launched free telemedicine services for sufferers with delicate signs.
Patients who take a look at constructive for COVID-19 at a lab affiliated with the well being ministry will obtain a WhatsApp message which gives a hyperlink to the telemedicine service. Free drugs can be offered.
The programme has been launched in Greater Jakarta and shall be prolonged to different areas, stated the federal government.
Nevertheless, the response has been blended with some discovering it helpful, but some complained that they didn’t obtain a WhatsApp message from the well being ministry.
There are additionally some who claimed that the WhatsApp message arrived days after they examined constructive, which was too late.
HEALTH SYSTEM IS CREAKING
Indonesia’s newest COVID-19 spike got here after Idul Fitri’s vacation in mid-May the place folks’s mobility was excessive as many returned to their hometowns regardless of a journey ban.
The authorities had anticipated a spike in COVID-19 cases and added up to 72,000 isolation beds, about 20,000 of which had been already occupied earlier than the vacation.
A complete of seven,500 intensive care unit beds, of which round 2,000 had been occupied earlier than Idul Fitri, had been additionally added.
READ: Fear, stress, relief: How CNA’s Nivell Rayda tested positive for COVID-19 as cases spike across Indonesia
However, this yr’s post-Idul Fitri COVID-19 cases spike is considerably larger than final yr’s 60 per cent hike.
On May 13, the primary day of Idul Fitri, a complete of three,448 day by day COVID-19 cases had been recorded. Two months afterward Jul 13, the day by day infections have multiplied by greater than 13 instances to 47,899.
The extra beds and the makeshift hospitals which the federal government had ready crammed up in a short time.
The surge in COVID-19 cases is a burden to Indonesia’s healthcare system, which even earlier than the pandemic was comparatively weaker in contrast to its neighbouring international locations.
Prior to the pandemic, information from the World Bank confirmed that Indonesia has 1.2 hospital beds for each 1,000 folks whereas Malaysia and Singapore have 1.9 and a pair of.4 respectively.
In a transfer to cut back strain on the healthcare system, the federal government has stated quite a few instances that sufferers with delicate signs shouldn’t go to the hospitals and solely individuals who meet sure standards could also be admitted.
“In specific those that have comorbidities, particularly when their (oxygen) saturation is under 95 per cent and those that have began to really feel in need of breath, they need to be taken to the hospital,” said Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin at a press conference on Jun 21.
ENDLESS SEARCH FOR HOSPITALS
But as hospitals are overwhelmed, even people who meet those criteria may not be admitted and have no choice but to isolate at home.
Mdm Kartini, 54, recently went through the ordeal of searching for hospital beds for her family members who tested positive for COVID-19.
Five of Mdm Kartini family members ended up self-isolating at home, since there were no hospital beds available and they did not experience major symptoms.
Their local health centre knew of their conditions and gave them a doctor’s contact number.
At one point, Mdm Kartini’s nephew, who is in his early twenties, started to feel breathless. The local health clinic tried to find a hospital for him, but to no avail.
“We contacted the physician. She responded a couple of instances but then she additionally contracted COVID-19 and have become much less responsive,” said Mdm Kartini.
The family eventually found a hospital for the nephew after searching endlessly. “It was like being advised you’ll obtain a bonus and a wage increment,” Mdm Kartini said of the relief and joy she felt at that time.
However, the oxygen saturation of the nephew’s mother dropped to 76. After various attempts to find a hospital for her, they tried to take care of her at home with oxygen supplied by other family members.
Meanwhile, the condition of her older sister deteriorated and she eventually passed away at home.
As officials were also handling other death cases, the family had to wait for six hours before officers arrived to bury the deceased.
“Self-isolating doesn’t imply it’s secure. If an individual should self-isolate, then the authorities or an company should monitor the situation of the affected person day-after-day, if doable,” Mdm Kartini said.
“Don’t simply take their fingers off as a result of not everybody can afford to rent home care, so there have to be a mechanism from the federal government on how to monitor folks day-after-day. This is a cry for assist,” she added.
Across Java island, lengthy queues had been seen at oxygen centres when folks rushed to purchase oxygen for his or her members of the family who have examined constructive.
These oxygen centres, that are principally run privately, promote oxygen tanks in addition to oxygen provide for a refill.
Mr Sadikin, the well being minister, stated on Jun 25 that there was enough oxygen provide on Java island. In Early July, dozens of sufferers died at a hospital in Yogyakarta after it ran out of oxygen provide.
Coordinating Minister for Maritime affairs and Investment Luhut Pandjaitan stated at a press convention on Jul 5 that oxygen distribution was hampered due to threefold to fourfold enhance in demand and requested oxygen producers to totally dedicate their provide to medical wants.
“I have been to two other places, they were all out of stock,” stated Mr Faisal, a newly recovered COVID-19 affected person, when met at an oxygen centre in Jakarta on Jul 8.
He needed to buy oxygen provide for his mother and father, who had been down with COVID-19 and whose oxygen saturation was under 90.
Mr Faisal chanced upon the oxygen centre online. It was nonetheless closed when he arrived but he determined to wait and check out his luck.
Indonesia has since obtained oxygen concentrators from Singapore and Australia has additionally stated it might ship oxygen concentrators and cylinders.
DEATHS AT HOME A GROWING CONCERN: NGOs
Self-isolating at home with out correct healthcare and supervision has led to cases of folks dying at home, in accordance to non-governmental organisations.
Jakarta-based well being assume tank Center for Indonesia’s Strategic Development Initiative (CISDI) reported that in West Java province, greater than 400 COVID-19 sufferers died in the primary week of July whereas isolating at home.
“The total number of patients who died in self-isolation in the last seven days was 446 people,” said CISDI’s founder Diah Saminarsih at a virtual press conference on Jul 12.
Meanwhile, LaporCovid-19, a coalition of citizens from various backgrounds and institutes such as the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI) and Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), recorded 740 deaths at home between June and Jul 21 in 16 provinces. All of the deceased were COVID-19 patients.
“This is only what we have found. Searching for this death rate is like searching for bodies or victims of a landslide. It is all buried, so we have to do some searching first,” said LaporCOVID-19’s data coordinator Said Fariz Hibban.
He revealed that among the deaths were elderly people who died alone at home while isolating and the neighbours only discovered their deaths a few days later.
While the Indonesian health ministry has no data on the number of COVID-19 patients who died at home, the head of disease prevention and control at Jakarta’s health agency Dr Dwi Oktavia told CNA that for the past few weeks, the city has buried about 300 deaths with COVID-19 health protocols every day.
The figure included 30 to 40 daily deaths at home.
“This is the condition we have seen in the last few days. Maybe not everyone (who has died) has tested for COVID-19, but at the time of death, the doctor or health worker conducts an interview, especially with the family members who know the deceased’s illness history.
“So, if we suspect it’s COVID-19, we’ll bury the physique in accordance to the usual COVID-19 protocol,” Dr Oktavia advised CNA.
It is thus essential that when an individual falls in poor health, somebody ought to instantly notify the pinnacle of the native neighbourhood unit, she added.
Mr Zafar, who was ultimately hospitalised and discharged about two weeks later, has just one message: “Don’t take COVID-19 lightly. Adhere to the health protocols, don’t underestimate the disease as if you don’t believe it exists.”
“Previously, I didn’t believe it existed, but after I experienced it myself, I have changed 90 degrees. It was in my body, the X-ray of my lungs showed my lungs were white. Don’t underestimate it, adhere to health protocols and keep a distance.”