The Jakarta Post
Amid an increasing number of COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the capital, a doctors association is calling on Jakartans to stay at home during the Christmas and New Year holidays to prevent a further spike in cases.
The Jakarta Health Agency recorded that the hospital bed occupancy rate in the city’s 98 COVID-19 referral hospitals had been increasing in the past month. Isolation beds in the city were already at 85 percent occupancy rate, while intensive care beds were at 80 percent, the agency reported on Saturday.
“Hospitals are full right now. Even if there are enough doctors, there is no place [to treat patients]. It is concerning,” Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) Jakarta chapter head Slamet Budiarto said on Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
He called on people to work together to prevent the virus from further spreading, particularly during the coming holidays.
“People should refrain from dining at restaurants. And please just have your holidays at home and don't go out," Slamet said. “It is boring, we know. But [staying at home is the best thing we all can do to prevent infections] while waiting for vaccines to be available next year.”
The Jakarta administration on Sunday extended the transitional period of large-scale social restrictions (PSBB) for another two weeks until Jan. 3 in the hope of preventing a spike in COVID-19 cases during the year-end holidays. It recorded a significant increase in new confirmed cases in the past four weeks, with experts suspecting they were the result of a long weekend in late October.
Infection clusters emerging from workplaces and households remained the main source of COVID-19 transmission in Jakarta, Governor Anies Baswedan said while announcing the extension. From Dec. 7 to 13, the city reported 3,821 cases linked to household clusters and 313 cases believed to originate from infection clusters in the workplace.
Experts said the virus spread among household members because people continued to do lots of activities outside their homes without following health protocols and did not realize that they might bring the disease home.
If people continued to not comply with mask-wearing and social distancing rules, the only way for Jakarta to curb transmission would be a return to stricter PSBB instead, Slamet said.
"If tighter PSBB were in place, the economy might tank again. So, to avoid that, please use your conscience [and follow health rules] and love yourself, your family,” he added.
Jakarta Health Agency head Widyastuti said her office was seeking to add more isolation beds to bring the total to 7,171, as well as more intensive care beds for a total of 1,020 to anticipate an increase in cases. She said the city would also increase the number of health workers.
A referral hospital in Central Jakarta, the Athletes Village emergency hospital, for instance, is running out of beds and can no longer accept asymptomatic patients.
Bed occupancy rates in three out of four apartment towers used as the makeshift hospital were already at 75 percent on average. The hospital is sparing beds in the only remaining tower for patients showing mild or moderate symptoms. Initially, this particular tower was used only for self-isolation of asymptomatic patients.
“Practically, we can no longer accept asymptomatic patients,” the hospital's field commander Navy Lt. Col. Muhammad Arifin said on Tuesday, as quoted by kompas.com.
On Tuesday, Jakarta recorded 1,311 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total tally to 165,888, the highest in the country. Some 14 people died of COVID-19 that day, bringing the death tally to 3,101.
The positivity rate in Jakarta also reached over 9 percent in the past three months, according to the Jakarta Health Agency. This is higher than the ideal rate of below 5 percent recommended by the World Health Organization. (ami)
Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.