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Alone on their deathbed, how COVID-19 keeps families away from loved ones

Jakarta Post - March 24, 2020

Jakarta – For many who have confronted grief in the face of the death of a loved one, we have at least one thing to be grateful for: being able to be at their bedside so they do not have to die alone.

However, amid the coronavirus pandemic that has wreaked havoc in the world with the number of infections rising rapidly to 400,000 with over 16,000 deaths, this all changes.

"The sad thing for suspected COVID-19 patients is they have to die alone, catching their last breath alone," read a post on Instagram account @nonznonz on Monday morning.

The account owner Leonita Triwachyuni Agustina Sutrisna is the daughter of the late Prof. Dr. Bambang Sutrisna a renowned lecturer at the School of Public Health at the University of Indonesia and an epidemiologist.

Bambang who was quarantined at Persahabatan Hospital, East Jakarta, a referral hospital for COVID-19, after experiencing fever and shortness of breath died on Monday at 8.30 a.m.

"Want to cry for help? No nurse around. The isolation room was closed, family members could not even see him," the post states.

"[Did you] know what my father did when he was out of breath last night? He called his children and child-in-law, asking for help".

"All I could do was to call the hospital to notify them [about my father's condition], because we were not even allowed to visit him'.

She wrote further saying that previously her father had insisted on practicing even though family members advised him not to.

"It turned out one of his patients was a suspected COVID-19 patient with a critical lung condition. The patient also insisted on going home [from Bintaro Hospital] despite his condition."

"The effect? My father got fever and shortness of breath. His condition kept deteriorating before he was pronounced dead".

Bambang is among six doctors who have died during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has so far infected more than 600 people and claimed 55 lives in Indonesia.

The daughter who is also a doctor at Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital in Central Jakarta, said that she could not meet her parents because of self-distancing measures and regretted those who did not follow this call as it could harm others.

"Funeral? Bathing the deceased? There's no such thing. We couldn't do any of that. We couldn't even choose the grave that my dad had purchased," she added.

Meanwhile, the son of pastor Aslam Nathanael of Bethel Church of Indonesia (GBI) Sukawarna, who died on Saturday in Bandung, West Java, took to Twitter on Sunday telling how he was unable to see his father for the last time after he was isolated at Hasan Sadikin Hospital (RSHS) in Bandung.

"We were told to hold a funeral immediately within four hours after his death," the son Ricky Ravasia wrote.

"My mom suggested San Diego Hills burial site because that was the place where my dad wanted to be buried. However, we were rejected. I am not sure what the reason was," Ricky wrote.

He added that the late Aslam was finally buried in Pandu burial place in Bandung only attended by himself and his brother-in-law as his mother was still in an isolation room of the RSHS.

"I was brokenhearted as I couldn't see my dad's face for the last time, without prayers, without mom by my side, [...] I didn't even have time to buy flowers, there was just a cross with his name written on it and the best picture of him," he added.

A similar story came from the colleagues of a private employee, who was also taken by COVID-19 three days after he was admitted to Persahabatan Hospital in Jakarta.

The colleagues stated that the employee died in an isolation room without the attendance of family and loved ones, not even flowers.

"Forgive us who couldn't be by your side at your very last time. You know we loved you and we won't stop praying for you," wrote the colleagues in the employee's obituary. (trn)

Source: https://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2020/03/24/alone-on-their-deathbed-how-covid-19-keeps-families-away-from-loved-ones.html