Jakarta – Jakarta Military Command (Kodam Jaya) chief Maj. Gen. Eko Margiyono has been appointed to lead the operations of the capital's emergency hospital for treating COVID-19.
Four of 10 towers at the former athletes village for the 2018 Asian Games have now been designated for the treatment of up to 3,000 patients and will continue to be expanded to handle up to 24,000 patients.
As of Monday morning, a total of 411 patients had been admitted to the COVID-19 emergency hospital. Ninety-two people of these have tested positive for coronavirus, 230 are patients under treatment (PDP) while 89 others are people under observation (ODP), Antara reported.
Eko, who has been chief of Kodam Jaya since January 2019, confirmed that he had been tapped to lead the makeshift hospital during a press conference at the National Disaster Mitigation Agency (BNPB) headquarters on Thursday last week.
He is among the latest active military generals entrusted by the government with handling the pandemic, highlighting what experts believe to be President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's apparent reliance on influential military figures in overcoming the health crisis.
Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto was quietly appointed two weeks ago to procure medical and personal protective equipment (PPE) from China by ordering the Indonesian Military (TNI) to fast-track the delivery. The minister was previously excluded from the COVID-19 task force led by BNPB head Doni Monardo, also an active Army general.
Jokowi added Prabowo to the lineup in a presidential decree signed on March 20. After Prabowo joined up, he instructed TNI commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto to fast-track the delivery of medical kits.
Last week, a TNI internal operations officer, Col. Inf. Aditya Nindra Pasha, announced that the military had distributed 151,000 items of PPE to 34 provinces across Indonesia to help medical personnel.
"All equipment was distributed between March 23 and 26, from a national warehouse in Halim Perdanakusuma Air Force Base [in East Jakarta]," Aditya said in a press conference on Friday.
Experts believe that Jokowi has no other choice than to rely on the security approach to back his economic priorities, which have been left in tatters as a result of the country's late response to the pandemic, by appointing security actors over public health experts to address the crisis.
While some of the military figures, such as Doni, are seen as competent with the leadership skills and military networks necessary to lead the task force, experts suggest putting the military in the forefront might risk transparency given the rivalry among military figures racing to secure sensitive information.
As of Sunday, the country had recorded 1,285 COVID-19 cases with 114 deaths. The disease has spread to at least 30 of the country's 34 provinces.
Globally, the pneumonia-like illness has infected more than 575,000 people with over 31,000 deaths. (mfp)