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Jakarta Post

Hospital expert calls for action to anticipate COVID-19 surge in January

  • The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, November 28 2020   /  01:00 am
An illustration of a doctor in a hospital.(Shutterstock/sfam_photo)

A hospital administration expert is urging the government and health authorities to increase bed capacity and expanding isolation facilities to anticipate a potential surge in coronavirus patients, as hospitals in Indonesia are quickly running out of space for COVID-19 patients.

Irwandy of Hasanuddin University in Makassar, South Sulawesi, which also manages a university hospital, said the number of COVID-19 patients had increased over the last week.

“This was caused by the lack of public obedience with regard to the health protocols,” Irwandy said as quoted by on Wednesday, noting the mass movement of people who traveled during the long holiday weekend at the end of October.

Earlier this month, the national COVID-19 task force announced that an increasing number of COVID-19 hospitals were running out of beds, with almost every region in the country reporting that bed capacity in isolation wards or intensive care units (ICU) were full.

“The highest peak of COVID-19 transmission occurred at the end of October and in early November. We could see the impacts a week or two after,” he said, pointing out that the potential health impacts of public mobility during the yearend holiday season in December would only become evident in higher local transmission rates in January 2021.

Read also: Bed capacity for COVID-19 patients in Bandung almost 90% full

Irwandy explained that taking a precautionary approach was necessary, seeing that the public was still neglecting the health protocols as well as the travel restrictions during long holidays. “Hospitals should also be ready to anticipate a surge in patients, which I predict could be higher than our current situation.” he said.

Central and regional governments should start reviewing the capacities of local hospitals. Meanwhile, certain regions with popular tourist destinations, such as Central Java, Greater Jakarta and Yogyakarta, should pay extra attention to anticipate a spike in daily cases and COVID-19 hospitalization.

“Especially Yogyakarta, since hospitals [there] have reached 78 percent bed capacity as of November, when ideally it should be less than 60 percent of the total capacity,” he said. Meanwhile, hospitals should generally increase their bed capacity by 20 percent to anticipate new COVID-19 patients.

Irwandy stressed that interregional cooperation was vital to developing an information system for sharing data on bed availability for COVID-19 patients. “Other neighboring regions could offer assistance if one region is overwhelmed by a surge in COVID-19 cases,” he said.

In addition to increasing bed capacity, hospitals should also look into establishing more off-site isolation facilities for treating patients with mild COVID-19, including quarantine hotels. (dpk)

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.

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