A doctor is tested for Covid-19 at Siloam Hospital, Kebun Jeruk, Jakarta, in Indonesia. (Photo: AFP)
More than 500 doctors have died from Covid-19 in Indonesia since the outbreak began in March last year, according to the country's top medical body.
At least 545 have fallen victim to the coronavirus, the Indonesian Doctors Association revealed on July 17.
Of that total, 292 were general practitioners, while 241 were specialist doctors, association spokesman Mahesa Paranadipa said, adding most were aged between 30 and 50.
Paranadipa said the high number of deaths has impacted hospital services and patient care and shows that more needs to be done to protect health workers in the fight against the virus.
He said various factors contributed to the doctors' deaths, including a lack of protective gear and early detection, as well as an absence of tight quarantining.
He also said an excessive workload following a spike in cases caused by the highly infectious Delta variant in recent months had lowered immunity levels among some physicians.
Although they have been vaccinated twice, they are exhausted through overwork. We are looking at ways to better protect doctors still serving people
Last week Indonesia overtook India, the country where the Delta variant was first detected, as Asia's Covid-19 epicenter by recording more daily infections.
"Although they have been vaccinated twice, they are exhausted through overwork. We are looking at ways to better protect doctors still serving people,” Paranadipa told UCA News.
He called on all Indonesians to strictly adhere to health protocols to ease the burden on health workers.
There are only around 168,000 doctors in Indonesia — a relatively small number compared with the general population of about 270 million.
Dr. Felix Gunawan, director of the Association of Voluntary Health Service of Indonesia, a Catholic group, said dozens of Catholic doctors were among those who died from Covid-19 but was unsure of the exact number.
It’s vital more hospitals and clinics are provided with adequate protective gear to help reduce the risks doctors and other health workers face, he said.
Indonesia has seen more than 50,000 new cases daily since large-scale social restrictions were eased in June. As of July 18, Indonesia had recorded 2,877,476 Covid-19 cases and 73,582 deaths.