Dina Manafe, Lenny Tristia Tambun, Jakarta – The government started delivering personal protective equipment for medical workers on Monday and promised up to $900 in monthly bonuses for doctors, nurses and medical personnel in a move intended to lift the morale of those working in the frontline to treat Covid-19 patients.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said the government has bought 105,000 sets of personal protective equipment (PPE) and is sending them to regions most heavily hit by the pandemic.
"I need to say that right now 180 countries are fighting to get enough PPE, from masks to hand sanitizers. Every country needs them," the president said
"Thank God, on Saturday we managed to buy 105,000 sets," Jokowi said in a press conference on Monday after visiting the Athletes' Village in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta, which the government has transformed into a makeshift Covid-19 hospital.
The Athletes' Village was used to house competitors during the 2018 Asian Games. It's manned by Army personnel and volunteers and is ready to receive up to 3,000 Covid-19 patients starting Monday.
Elsewhere in the country, however, doctors and medical workers are crying for help as they face the stark reality of having to treat Covid-19 patients with limited protective gear.
"The lack of PPE is a big issue. We're very concerned. Some medical workers have already fallen victim [to Covid-19] while many others are under treatment," Daeng Faqih, the chairman of the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI), said last week.
"If medical workers are not protected, they get infected, then they'll have to be isolated for 14 days. That would reduce the number we've got to help patients," Daeng said.
IDI said on Sunday that six doctors, one of them as young as 34, had passed away after treating Covid-19 patients at close quarters.
Looking to prevent the tragedy from happening again, Jokowi said the government had already distributed 95,000 sets of PPE to hospitals most impacted by the pandemic.
As many as 45,000 PPE units will be distributed to hospitals in Jakarta, Bogor and Banten, with another 40,000 set aside for hospitals in West Java, Central Java, East Java, Yogyakarta and Bali.
Hospitals outside Java would receive a total of 10,000 PPE units while the remaining 10,000 would be kept in reserve, Jokowi said.
Indonesia has so far confirmed 514 Covid-19 cases with 28 deaths, and only 29 recoveries.
The government anticipated up to 700,000 people might get infected by coronavirus in Indonesia and has urged people with mild symptoms to self-isolate at home to avoid overwhelming the country's hospitals.
There are only 310,000 hospital beds across Indonesia, the World Health Organization's 2015 data showed.
Jokowi also said that medical workers in regions that have declared a Covid-19 emergency would receive a monthly salary bonus.
Specialist doctors would receive Rp 15 million ($900) bonus per month, while general practitioners and dentists get Rp 10 million per month. Midwives and nurses would see their income bumped up by Rp 7.5 million and other medical personnel by Rp 5 million per month.
"This only applies to regions that already declare an emergency response," Jokowi said. Those regions include Jakarta, Banten, West Java, East Java, Yogyakarta, East Kalimantan, West Kalimantan, as well as the cities of Depok and Bogor.