Jakarta – President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo inspected on Monday a new emergency hospital that the government has converted from the four apartment towers of the Kemayoran Athletes Village in Central Jakarta to handle COVID-19 patients.
Workers rushed the conversion in the past week as the number of people infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus continued to grow daily, particularly in Jakarta. The venue was used as the athletes village for the 2018 Asian Games.
The hospital, staffed mostly by doctors and nurses from the Indonesian Military and the National Police, was to be fully operational late Monday and is intended to treat as many as 24,000 patients.
Touring the facility, Jokowi stressed that the hospital would only start taking patients when all existing government facilities are already filled to capacity.
"I hope this COVID-19 emergency hospital will not be used," Jokowi said in a media conference, adding that for now "existing hospitals can handle the coronavirus treatments."
Most hospitals, however, say they are already stretched to the limit. Some are even closing their doors to new patients.
The new emergency hospital would be ready to handle about 3,000 patients at a time, Jokowi said.
"Everything is ready: the isolation rooms, the ventilators and the personal protective gear," he said.
By Sunday, Indonesia had 514 cases of COVID-19 with 48 fatalities and 29 recoveries. But the numbers could skyrocket in the coming days as the government begins extensive testing now that the test kits, flown in from China, have become more available.
The 10-tower athletes village was built for the 2018 Asian Games, which Jakarta cohosted with Palembang, South Sumatra.
The conversion involved seven state construction firms including PT Adhi Karya, PT Nindya Karya, PT Waskita Karya, PT Brantas Abipraya, PT Wijaya Karta and PT Pembangunan Perumahan. PT Bina Karya was the planning and supervision consultant.
The government spokesperson for COVID-19-related matters, Achmad Yurianto, had earlier said the emergency hospital could be used for rapid testing.
Besides the emergency hospital, Jokowi has also ordered to prepare two islands in the Riau archipelago as possible places to send COVID-19 patients into isolation. One of the islands, Galang, was used in the 1970s to take on Indochinese refugees fleeing the aftermath of the Vietnam War. (mfp)