Nur Janti, Jakarta – The government started on Thursday the distribution of free medicine packages to support self-isolating COVID-19 patients during their isolation period amid soaring coronavirus cases in the country.
In the initial phase, 300,000 medicine packages will be distributed for self-isolating patients across Java and Bali, which are currently under emergency public activity restrictions (PPKM Darurat), with the assistance of the Indonesian Military (TNI). This will be followed by the distribution of another 300,000 packages to the rest of the country.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo said the government would closely monitor the distribution of the packages so as to ensure they are received by the targeted recipients.
"I am ordering close supervision in the field so that this program can truly be effective in reducing the risks associated with COVID-19 and to help the treatment of people who have contracted [the disease]," Jokowi said in Jakarta on Thursday.
The self-isolating patients will receive one medicine package with enough doses for seven days. COVID-19 patients with mild to moderate symptoms will need their doctor's prescription to receive the government's medicine package, which includes vitamins and medicines related to their symptoms.
Self-isolating asymptomatic patients, on the other hand, will get a package of vitamins, which will be given to them without requiring a doctor's prescription.
Jokowi gave an assurance that the country's medicine stock for COVID-19 treatment will not be affected by the distribution of the packaged medicine.
The free packages are being disbursed amid a significant increase in coronavirus cases that has taken the country's hospitals to the brink and forced many infected people to self-isolate at home because they are unable to find vacant hospital beds. Volunteer group LaporCOVID-19 reported that at least 365 people had died in self-isolation in June and the first week of July.
Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country climbed to a record-high of 56,757 on Thursday, just a day after the country set a previous record of 54,517 cases, according to the national COVID-19 task force's data. Indonesia has reported more than 2.7 million cases since it detected its first cluster of coronavirus cases in early March last year.
State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir said the distribution of the free medicines was the government's response to the rising need for COVID-19 medicines for self-isolating patients.
"We want the people to swiftly recover from COVID-19," said Erick. "We want [to respond to] the public's confusion over issues of shortages of [COVID-19 medicines], which is why we're distributing the packages."
TNI commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said the military would work with community leaders and community health centers (Puskesmas) to organize the distribution of the packages to self-isolating patients, adding that the TNI's village supervisory non-commissioned officers (Babinsa) would be deployed to assist in distributing the aid.
"In distributing the packages, Babinsa will be accompanied by health workers from Puskesmas and [local] midwives to ensure the packages get into the right hands," Hadi said.