The Jakarta Post
Repatriated Indonesians who have been quarantined for suspected COVID-19 infections in Tower 9 of Block C2 of the Kemayoran Athletes Village in North Jakarta have reported inadequate facilities in the tower, which is housing more than 2,000 citizens.
Government data shows that Block C2 has three towers, including Tower 9, with a combined capacity of 1,932 rooms. Block C2, now called Pademangan Athlete Village, is separate from Block D10, where the Kemayoran Athletes Village emergency COVID-19 hospital is located.
The recently opened quarantine facility for repatriated citizens came under scrutiny after a postgraduate student named Kunaifi, who had returned from the Netherlands, wrote a lengthy complaint on Tuesday about his quarantine in the 24-story building.
Kunaifi, his wife and his two children were admitted to the quarantine facility on May 16, soon after they landed in Jakarta. According to Kunaifi, physical distancing was not properly implemented in the building as people were packing into elevators and gathering in large crowds.
“Inside the elevator, shoulders meet shoulders. My family and I are terrified that we have to physically touch people who have just come from the worst-hit COVID-19 countries,” Kunaifi wrote. It was impossible, he said, to wait until the elevator was empty because the site was “too crowded and new people keep coming”.
He said people had to collect food on their own from the first floor, where no physical distancing was being maintained.
As the amount of food was inadequate, some residents were left with empty stomachs. “As a family of four, we only got two portions for sahur [predawn meal] today. We didn’t get any food for dinner,” Kunaifi wrote on Tuesday.
Another repatriated citizen named Bella, who requested anonymity, corroborated accounts of the dire situation at Tower 9. The 27-year-old had returned from visiting family in Europe and was quarantined from May 14 to 18. She was in the first group of repatriated citizens to be quarantined at the facility.
“I tested negative [for COVID-19], and all I thought was that I should do a 14-day self-quarantine at home. But then the officials took my passport, and I was taken to a quarantine facility by military personnel without getting any detailed information,” she told The Jakarta Post.
She explained that two or three people were grouped randomly in one room with a shared bathroom. “We were all suspected of having COVID-19. No one could tell whether someone carried the virus or not.”
“There were two occasions when I didn’t get any food,” Bella recalled. “There was no soap in the bathrooms, and there was no sanitizer liquid in the so-called quarantine facility.”
Anna, 24, a migrant worker returning from Singapore, has been quarantined in the facility since May 14. She will stay there at least until her swab test results are returned.
“My condition is good, but the facility’s condition has worsened day by day,” Anna said on Wednesday. “I can’t take a bath nor can I go to the toilet because there’s been no running water since morning. Also, there’s not enough drinking water,” she said.
She added that hundreds of people gathered in a crowd on the first floor of the building on Wednesday to obtain their swab test results, ignoring physical distancing procedures. “We were told to gather to find out on our own whether our test results were available or not.”
Responding to the situation, COVID-19 Emergency Hospital Joint Force deputy commander Brig. Gen. M. Saleh said that Tower 9 had only opened on May 14 and was not fully ready to receive such a high number of repatriated citizens.
More than 1,000 repatriates came to the facility on the very first day it was opened, he said. “Within less than a week, the facility had received 2,158 returnees to be quarantined,” he said.
Saleh said that Tower 9, which was designated for repatriated Indonesians, was under the management of the Health Ministry’s Port Health Authority (KKP). Therefore, he said, the facility was different than the towers in Block D10 in Kemayoran Athletes Village, which were used as an emergency COVID-19 hospital.
Saleh claimed the condition at the facility had been gradually improving and said he appreciated all the suggestions that had been given.
“I also demand all people [in the quarantine facility] adhere to the health protocols, with or without official orders,” he said in a written statement on Wednesday.