“We bring our own masks, our own suits that may not be of standard quality,” the doctor told Reuters, asking not to be identified because of the sensitivity of the matter.
“My friends, one by one, catch the virus,” he said, holding back tears.
The government said this week it had sourced 175,000 new sets of protective equipment for medical staff that would be distributed across the country.
A new emergency hospital has been opened in Jakarta with an eventual capacity to treat up to 24,000 patients. Doctors and medical staff have been promised bonuses and 500,000 rapid testing kits have arrived from China.
Indonesia’s health system is highly decentralized, making it hard for the central government to coordinate its response across a sprawling archipelago of some 19,000 islands spanning 5,100 km.
A lack of intensive care unit (ICU) beds also worries experts, especially as the country enters peak dengue fever season, which adds to demand for the facilities.
“If you are critically ill and you can get into ICU and get put on a ventilator, most people should survive,” said Archie Clements, a public health specialist from Perth’s Curtin University, referring to people infected with the coronavirus.
“If you don’t get them into ICU and get them on a ventilator, then they will die.”
A study in the Critical Care Medicine journal in January, which compared intensive care beds for adults in Asian countries using 2017 data, found Indonesia had 2.7 critical care beds per 100,000 people, among the lowest in the region.
(Reporting by Tom Allard and Stanley Widianto; Editing by Joe Brock, Robert Birsel)
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