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Jakarta Post

Galang COVID-19 hospital opens to step up fight against Indonesian epidemic

  • Fadli

    The Jakarta Post

Batam   /   Tue, April 7, 2020   /   01:33 pm
Galang COVID-19 hospital opens to step up fight against Indonesian epidemic Officials visit the isolation ward of the Galang Island COVID-19 Specialist Hospital on April 1, 2020 in Riau Islands province. The hospital has been built using a modular architectural design, similar to the construction approach used to build the temporary hospitals in Wuhan, China. (JP/ Fadli )

The specialist hospital on Galang Island, which was purpose-built to treat COVID-19 patients from across the nation, opened on Monday to bolster Indonesia’s fight against the outbreak.

Galang Island COVID-19 Specialist Hospital, located in Riau islands province, has 340 beds for patients under observation and a 20-bed isolation ward for providing intensive care. It also has a cemetery for burying the bodies of patients who have died of COVID-19, as many regions have reported heated public objections to burying COVID-19 patients at local cemeteries.

Read also: Tensions arise between residents, officials over burials in Depok, Medan

The hospital has 15 specialist doctors, 110 nurses and other support staff, and 241 volunteer staff.

“This hospital was initially designated for [returning] migrant workers, but it will now also receive referral patients from hospitals in other regions,” Indonesian Military (TNI) Regional Defense Joint Command I (Kogabwilhan I) commander Vice Adm. Yudo Margono said on Monday during the hospital's inauguration ceremony.

Galang hospital is under the supervision of Maj. Gen M.S. Fadhilah, the commander of the Bukit Barisan I Military Command that oversees the provinces of North Sumatra, West Sumatra, Riau and Riau Islands.

Fadhilah is leading the integrated operational command in the region, which consists of medical workers, state officials, military personnel and police officers.

Galang hospital head Col. Chairul Ihsan, who also heads the Bukit Barisan I command’s Army hospital in Medan, North Sumatra, said that the hospital would be admitting patients from Batam, the largest island and maritime hub of Riau Islands province, as well as from other regions across the country.

“This hospital has been designated for [treating] infectious and contagious diseases, which in this case is COVID-19,” said Chairul. “We have been assigned to lead the hospital until the COVID-19 emergency is over.”

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

Batam Deputy Mayor Amsakar Achmad said that the administration had also provided a plot of land near the specialist hospital to use as a cemetery for patients who had died of COVID-19.

“The [Batam] mayor has prepared and proposed the [land] for use in consideration of the local populace's objections toward the bodies of COVID-19 patients,” he said.

Several cities across the archipelago have reported widespread public objections to burying people who had died of COVID-19 in local cemeteries. In some areas, the local community has blocked streets to prevent ambulances from transporting the bodies of those who had died of the infectious disease to public cemeteries, citing fears that the bodies of confirmed cases would spread the disease in the area.

Read also: Palang Hitam runs 24/7 to care for Jakarta's dead during COVID-19 outbreak

The protocol for burying the bodies of those who died of the disease includes wrapping the body in plastic sheeting and placing in a coffin, which is also wrapped in plastic. Those who assist in the burial must also wear protective gear, such as a hazmat suit, mask and gloves. (mfp)