Apriadi Gunawan and Markus Makur, Medan/East Manggarai – Regional hospitals across the nation are bracing for a surge in COVID-19 patients as they face a shortage of doctors and nurses with expertise in respiratory illnesses.
As the number of COVID-19 patients continues to rise – reaching 579 on Monday – the need for medical staff has also grown.
In North Sumatra, the province's COVID-19 rapid-response team has trained non-pulmonologist doctors and nurses to cover the shortage of medical staff handling COVID-19 patients in the province.
Team leader Riadil Akhir Lubis said that the trainers included doctors who helped observe Indonesians repatriated from Wuhan in China – the virus's initial epicenter – during their quarantine period in Natuna, Riau Islands.
"The first phase resulted in 60 trained doctors and nurses. After this, more doctors and nurses will be trained, this will go on continuously since there is a lack medical personnel for COVID-19 in North Sumatra," Riadil said on Monday.
The trained doctors and nurses will also be given a COVID-19 handbook in the hope they will soon be ready to anticipate the increasing number of COVID-19 patients.
North Sumatra Health Agency head Alwi Mujahit Hasibuan said that in choosing the doctors and nurses who would receive the training, the rapid-response team referred to the recommendations given by several doctors' and nurses' associations.
Meanwhile, East Nusa Tenggara (NTT) only has four pulmonologists to cover COVID-19 patients across 23 regencies and cities.
The four doctors, who are currently resident in Kupang, are expected to be mobile and ready to treat COVID-19 patients anywhere around the region.
NTT administration spokesperson Marius Jelamu said that Governor Viktor Bungtilu Laiskodat had rented an airplane to help transport the doctors across the province.
"The administration has also ordered 15,000 masks, personal protective equipment and disinfectant from Jakarta. It is expected to arrive within two or three days," Marius Jelamu told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
He said the administration had been coordinating closely with the COVID-19 referral hospitals in Jakarta regarding medical equipment and staff.
As of Monday afternoon, Indonesia had recorded 579 confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide, with 49 deaths. (trn)