Lack of compliance blamed for East Java's high COVID-19 tally, health workers' deaths: Indonesian minister
JAKARTA: A senior official has expressed concerns over the high number of COVID-19 infections and deaths in the Indonesian province of East Java, which has become another epicentre for the spread of the disease in the country.
“We have conducted an evaluation (on the conditions in East Java) and I have to say the results are not very welcoming,” Coordinating Minister for Human Development and Culture Muhadjir Effendy told Indonesian media when he visited the provincial capital Surabaya on Thursday (Jul 16).
Mr Effendy said the residents' lack of discipline in adhering to social distancing rules is to be blamed for the rise of infections in East Java.
“According to assessments from (the province’s COVID-19) task force, compliance is still low,” the minister said.
Experts have pointed out that the East Java government had not been firm in punishing people who ignored health protocols and the government’s large-scale social restrictions order.
Mr Effendy said the central government is formulating a regulation which would allow cities and regencies across Indonesia to have uniformed sanctions and law enforcement standards to punish violators.
“The essence (of the planned regulation) is about getting people to obey health protocols. This is the key (to controlling the pandemic),” he said.
The minister also expressed concerns about the high number of health workers infected in the province.
According to the Indonesian Doctor’s Association, 295 doctors, nurses and lab technicians have been infected with COVID-19, and 23 of them have died from the disease.
“We will help East Java to get all the personal protective gear they need. We will make sure (East Java) gets (the equipment) on time,” he said.
The minister also said that the central government would prioritise East Java in the distribution of test kits and medical equipment.
“There must be an improvement in the number of COVID-19 cases in East Java. East Java had contributed a lot in the total number of COVID-19 cases nationwide. If we can control (infection in) East Java, we can control COVID-19 cases nationally,” he said.
Dr Sutrisno, chairman of the East Java chapter of the Indonesian Doctor’s Association, said that the central and provincial governments also need to address manpower shortage and hospital overcrowding.
“Health workers have been working non-stop. Meanwhile, more and more medical workers had been infected, particularly at hospitals overwhelmed with COVID-19 patients,” the doctor, who like many Indonesians goes with one name, told CNA on Friday (Jul 17).
“This reduced not only the number of medical workers on duty, but also the quality of service in treating COVID-19 patients.”
East Java has seen a spike in the number of daily infections since mid-May. The number of cases surpassed that of Jakarta on Jun 26.
As of Friday afternoon, the number of infections in East Java stood at 17,829 while Jakarta had 15,889 cases.
East Java also recorded 1,338 deaths, compared to Jakarta’s 719.
The number of recovered patients in the province was lower than that in the Indonesian capital, at 8,313 and 9,994 respectively.
Nationally, Indonesia had 83,130 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 3,957 fatalities.