Jakarta readies more beds as virus overwhelms health system

The task force is preparing to open another tower to bring the total capacity to 10,000 beds, from about 6,500

JAKARTA • Indonesia’s capital is adding thousands of beds to house Covid-19 patients as its health system struggles with record increases in virus cases.

The system is “already overwhelmed”, said Jossep William, coordinator of volunteer department at the task force for handling the pandemic, adding that ambulances haven’t stopped running for days to transport patients. “We can still contain the patient flow for now but if it continues like this, our health system will collapse.”

The country reported the highest increase in virus cases since the pandemic began, adding 4,176 confirmed infections yesterday (at press time) to bring the total to 248,852, of which a quarter is in the capital.

Indonesia has marked fresh records in the number of new cases every few days in September.

The task force is opening up another tower at the Wisma Atlet, an apartment complex built to house athletes for the 2018 Asian Games that has since been converted to a hospital dedicated to the coronavirus outbreak. It’s also preparing to open another tower to bring the total capacity to 10,000 beds, from about 6,500, said Tugas Ratmono, who oversees the hospital.

Jakarta, home to more than 10 million people, has brought back social-distancing measures and pledged to isolate people who have tested positive for the virus, instead of letting them quarantine at home.

Meanwhile, Myanmar locked down most of Yangon Province, home to its largest city, for two weeks to contain a record surge in coronavirus infections ahead of the general elections scheduled for November.

The strict stay-at-home order from yesterday bars more than one member of a family venturing out for shopping and curbs travel from Yangon township to other cities except for essential work, according to guidelines issued on Sunday by the nation’s Central Committee on Covid-19 Control. Essential services such as banking, healthcare, fuel stations and food outlets will be allowed to operate as usual, it said.

While private sector companies and organisations were ordered to ask employees to work from home, government employees were allowed to do on rotation. With new virus cases surging, authorities cut the quarantine period at state facilities to one week from two to make space for the care of primary and secondary contacts of infected people, according to the

Ministry of Health and Sports. New cases jumped by 671 on Sunday, a single-day record for Myanmar since the nation of 54-million people first reported the virus outbreak in late March, official data showed. The death toll rose 11 (at press time), taking the total to 94.

Yangon region, which accounted for about a quarter of Myanmar’s GDP and 30% of total investments, is home to the Thilawa Special Economic Zone and 29 industrial zones, according to the Ministry of Investment and Foreign Economic Relations.

Myanmar is racing to contain the outbreak, with 5,805 Covid-19 cases as of yesterday morning, ahead of general elections scheduled for Nov 8. About two dozen political parties are calling for the vote to be postponed due to the resurgence in virus cases. — Bloomberg