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Jakarta Post

Indonesia to turn former Vietnamese refugee camp into hospital for COVID-19 patients

  • Fadli

    The Jakarta Post

Galang Island, Batam   /   Wed, March 4, 2020   /   07:50 pm
Indonesia to turn former Vietnamese refugee camp into hospital for COVID-19 patients Medical workers stand ready to spray disinfectant on 69 Indonesian crew members and passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship as they alight in Yokohama, Japan. (Antara/Indonesian Embassy in Tokyo)

Following the confirmation of the first two COVID-19 cases in Indonesia, the government is making plans to transform a former camp for Vietnamese refugees on Galang Island, Batam, Riau Islands, into a hospital for COVID-19 patients. 

During a visit to assess the site, Indonesian Military (TNI) commander Air Chief Marshal Hadi Tjahjanto said Galang Island was chosen as the location for a COVID-19 hospital as several of the site's buildings still remained after being used as a refugee camp from 1979 to 1996.

The site also has access to clean water and electricity, while the island is located 50 kilometers from Hang Nadim International Airport. 

Read also: 'Diamond Princess' evacuees to start separate quarantine on Sebaru island

Hadi explained the hospital would treat infected patients and also function as a quarantine center. A coronavirus quarantine center was previously set up in Natuna, Riau Islands.

“We shall see if this is the right time to turn the location into a special hospital to treat patients infected with novel coronavirus. Hopefully, this plan will be realized soon and the hospital can be put to use immediately, especially if there are infected patients near Galang Island,” Hadi said. 

The hospital, which is expected to be able to accommodate 1,000 patients, will be equipped with isolation rooms as well, which will take up 2 percent of the hospital’s total capacity. 

“We will prepare 50 isolation rooms as the World Health Organization's health protocol stipulates that 2 percent of the hospital's capacity must be isolation rooms,” Hadi said.  

Public Works and Housing Minister Basuki Hadimuljono said construction would be completed within a month. 

“We will not forget the locals' contribution here. The construction might not take long. The water source is already available, everything has been prepared according to the standards of the facilities in Natuna and Sebaru,” Basuki said, adding that he did not know what the total budget for the project would be.

Hadi and Basuki were also unable to say when construction would begin. 

Read also: Indonesia to test more people for COVID-19

Meanwhile, head of the Riau Islands Health Agency Tjeptjep Yudiana said the decision to set up the special hospital on Galang Island had not yet been made final.

“They have only come to assess the site. Galang is one option, but so far no decision has been made,” Tjeptjep said. 

The field coordinator for the visit, Said Adnan, said the military had inspected a former hospital building, a logistics building and several religious buildings. 

“We have been ordered to clean out the buildings and provide details on the condition of the buildings to the commander,” Adnan said. (dpk)