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Indonesian medical body slams Covid self-isolation policy

More than 2,000 people have died at home 'because they lacked proper supervision and care'

Indonesian medical body slams Covid self-isolation policy

The body of a Covid-19 victim is buried in Jakarta. (Photo: Social Affairs Ministry)

Indonesia’s top medical body has criticized a government policy of allowing Covid-19 patients to self-isolate at home, saying more than 2,000 have died because of a lack of medical supervision.

At least 2,313 Covid-19 patients have died at home since the Delta variant began spreading rapidly a few weeks ago, the Indonesian Medical Association said on July 25.

It said it wants field hospitals set up to provide better monitoring of thousands of patients who initially appear to have no or mild symptoms and are having to self-isolate because hospitals are full.

“Self-isolating patients aren’t being monitored by medical workers, so we don’t know their condition,” Dr. Daeng M. Faqih, the association's chairman, told reporters. 

This monitoring is necessary to prevent death and also to prevent the virus’ spread as the patients could still be engaging in human contact putting others at risk, he said. 

Health Ministry spokeswoman Siti Nadia Tarmizi said the government understood the association’s concerns and was looking to establish more centers to monitor patients.

Although in most cases people will experience mild symptoms, we don’t know if and when a person’s condition will deteriorate

She admitted the government was struggling to keep up with the fast-spreading Delta variant when it came to patient care.

Hospitals are full, so self-isolation for some patients was necessary until alternative arrangements could be made, she said.

Several parishes and Catholic schools in Jakarta have set up their own self-isolation centers so that patients are not alone and can be be monitored by the health workers. 

St. Servatius Parish in Bekasi, West Java province, has provided 20 beds for patients.

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“If they are left alone, no one can help them,” Heri Wibowo, who runs the center, told UCA News.  

Dr. Felix Gunawan, director of the Association of Voluntary Health Service of Indonesia, a Catholic group, said being left alone is what is happening to thousands.

“Although in most cases people will experience mild symptoms, we don’t know if and when a person’s condition will deteriorate, so it’s necessary for as many people as possible, if not all, to be monitored in hospitals or other health facilities,” he said. 

Indonesia had recorded 3,194,733 Covid-19 cases and 84,766 deaths, with around 50,000 new infections and 1,487 new deaths reported on July 26.

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