Yerica Lai, Jakarta – Jakarta and Yogyakarta will be the regions hit hardest by the latest COVID-19 wave if authorities fail to contain the ongoing case surge, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin has said.
During a meeting with House of Representatives Commission IX overseeing health on Tuesday, the minister said the two provinces would experience a shortage of isolation and intensive care unit (ICU) beds for COVID-19 patients if confirmed cases kept soaring.
"Yogyakarta and Jakarta will face a tough period if the [cases rise] by 30 percent, or about 2 to 3 percent, a day in the next two weeks," Budi said.
Indonesia is struggling with a COVID-19 case surge recently exacerbated by the spread of the more transmissible Delta variant of the virus. On Tuesday, health authorities confirmed 47,899 new cases – another pandemic record – and 864 deaths. The country now has more than 400,000 active cases.
On the same day, Jakarta and Yogyakarta recorded bed occupancy rates of 86 and 90 percent, respectively.
Hospitals are overwhelmed with the high number of patients. Many of the sick have been unable to receive medical attention and have been made to self-isolate with little to no supervision.
Budi added that the central government had discussed the matters with the governors of Yogyakarta and Jakarta and had prepared several options to deal with the bed shortage.
Yogyakarta still has 8,200 hospital beds that can be converted into isolation or ICU beds, Budi said. The province is using 2,400 of its 2,500 current isolation beds to treat COVID-19 patients.
Meanwhile, Jakarta will need to convert several large hospitals into COVID-19 referral facilities. This strategy has already been applied to Fatmawati General Hospital, Persahabatan Hospital and Sulianti Saroso Hospital.
In total, the capital has converted 50 percent of its hospital beds into COVID-19 isolation beds.
While the government has been preparing to set up field or emergency hospitals to tackle the high bed occupancy problem, Budi said it would be better to use existing rooms and beds rather than set them up from scratch.
He cited a repurposed haj dormitory in Pondok Gede, East Jakarta, that had been converted into a COVID-19 emergency hospital. The facility has a capacity of 700 ready-to-use rooms.
"We'll use it to treat COVID-19 patients with moderate symptoms," Budi said.