JAKARTA: Buildings in Indonesia are being converted to makeshift facilities for the COVID-19 pandemic, as the government scrambles to deal with a growing number of cases.
On Monday (Mar 23), President Joko Widodo visited Jakarta’s 2018 Asian Games Athlete’s Village in Kemayoran, which has been turned into an emergency makeshift hospital to treat COVID-19 patients.
Speaking at the venue, Mr Widodo said he believes the facility will be ready to treat patients starting Monday afternoon.
“The athlete’s village has a total capacity of 24,000 people and is currently being prepared for patients, doctors, and paramedics,” the president said.
"I also saw that the infrastructure is ready, both for the patients' rooms and the ventilators ... personal protective equipment is also ready ... I hope this coronavirus emergency hospital is not used. This means that the existing hospitals (in Jakarta), which we have prepared well in advance, are able to handle this coronavirus."
The athlete’s village comprises 10 towers, and at the moment the makeshift hospital is ready to ward about 2,500 to 3,000 patients. They will be treated in towers six and seven.
Depending on need and readiness, more towers could be converted into medical facilities.
COVID-19 patients who show mild and moderate symptoms will be treated at the hospital after being seen by a referral doctor or hospital.
Those with severe conditions would still be treated at referral hospitals, said the authorities.
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The makeshift hospital is equipped with medication, personal protective equipment, a high-speed telecommunication network, isolation rooms, observation rooms, laboratories, radiology rooms, and intensive care units.
MAKESHIFT FACILITIES IN OTHER REGIONS
The athlete’s village is not the first building to have been converted into a COVID-19 facility.
Over the weekend, privately owned hotel ‘The Media Hotel and Towers’ in Jakarta was handed over to the COVID-19 task force.
The five-star hotel will be used to house COVID-19 paramedics so that they spend less time commuting and minimise contact with society.
There are also discussions to convert other buildings owned by state-owned enterprises into makeshift buildings.
The military has also prepared 109 military-owned hospitals across Indonesia to be turned into isolation rooms.
On Sunday, religious affairs minister Fachrul Razi visited the national hajj pilgrimage dormitory in East Jakarta. Part of the dormitory will be converted to isolation rooms for COVID-19 patients.
INFECTIOUS DISEASE HOSPITAL IN BATAM
Additionally, the government is working to ready a new infectious diseases hospital on Galang island, in Batam near Singapore.
Construction of the hospital started on Mar 8 and it is expected to be inaugurated on Mar 28.
It is being built on the site of a former Vietnamese refugee camp about 56km from Batam city centre.
“The target which the president gave was about two, three weeks … It’s not only observation and quarantine rooms but it also includes other supporting facilities such as houses for the doctors and nurses, kitchens, warehouses, laundry, and others,” Public Works Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said last week in a statement.
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It has not been revealed which COVID-19 patients would be warded in the hospital and how they would be transported to the island.
Indonesia has one of the highest COVID-19 mortality rates in the world at over 8 per cent.
As of Monday, it has reported 49 deaths and 579 cases.