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Coronavirus: Indonesian doctors wear plastic raincoats due to shortage of protective gear

Jun 09, 2024Jun 09, 2024

Doctors and nurses in Indonesia are being forced to wear cheap plastic raincoats due to a shortage of protective gear and Hazmat suits.

Authorities believe that at least eight doctors and several nurses in Indonesia have died after succumbing to the deadly coronavirus that is now sweeping the world.

Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia, Gary Quinlan warned there were now limited flights leaving Indonesia and urged Australians to act quickly if they wished to leave.

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“Last Qantas flight today. You may not get another chance. There are no plans for assisted departures as in Wuhan or Japan. We urge Australians in Indonesia to act quickly,” Mr Quinlan tweeted.

Many believe the true number of deaths amongst the medical community is much larger, given the lack of protective equipment, masks and hand sanitiser available across the sprawling archipelago.

Well-known epidemiologist and university lecturer Bambang Sitrisna succumbed to the virus.

His daughter, also a doctor, posted an emotional piece about him dying alone.

Indonesia has announced the total number of Covid-19 cases is 790, up 105 from Tuesday.

The death toll is now 58, up from 55 yesterday.

From Monday to Tuesday the number of cases also jumped 107.

There are also concerns that Indonesia has been too slow to shut down mass gatherings, such as prayer meetings and religious ceremonies, and that there has been too much focus on the economic impact of a complete shutdown of all but essential services.

In recent days, social media has been alive with photographs of medical staff wearing cheap plastic raincoats in lieu of personal protective equipment.

Celebrities have begun fundraising drives to raise money for equipment.

“Many doctors are using raincoats, many many doctors, many nurses, many ambulance drivers,” says Andreas Harsono of Human Rights Watch.

“This lack of hazmat suits is a huge problem for medical workers in Indonesia. Even ambulance drivers need to be wearing them.”

"‘This lack of hazmat suits is a huge problem for medical workers in Indonesia.’"

Mr Harsono said that whilst a factory in Central Java is now producing the necessary hazmat suits, the production should have started last month.

He said that one nurse he knows, a midwife at Cilandak Clinic in south Jakarta, told him that they have been divided into teams of three medical workers but each team has only one hazmat suit per team.

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The other two team members have been told to use normal aprons and wash their uniforms after each use.

Some are wearing normal face masks with regular glasses despite working in the isolation rooms with Covid-19 patients.

Even medical workers doing nasal and throat swabs are not equipped with protective gear and are wearing just aprons.

The clinic has 300-plus staff and was visited recently by Indonesia’s Health Minister.

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Mr Harsono said Indonesia was now involved in an endless blame game about the country’s lack of preparedness for the virus outbreak.

The government, lead by President Joko Widodo, has so far stopped short of a total lockdown, especially in the densely populated capital Jakarta.

The economic fall-out is likely to cause a social crisis as many thousands lose their jobs.

This fear of a social crisis and how to cushion the poor is exercising the political decisions now being made, says Mr Harsono.

“Jokowi has refused to have a lockdown and any regional leader who wants to have a lockdown should get Jokowi’s approval,” he said.

Foreigners remaining in Indonesia have also been advised not to attend Immigration offices to renew their stay permits.

It comes after almost 2000 people flooded the Bali Immigration offices earlier this week in a rush to renew their stay permits causing chaos and with little effort at social distancing.

Stay permits will now be automatically renewed at no cost and there will be no fines for those who entered the country after February 5 this year.

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