Jakarta. The Indonesian government has deployed five ferries to be used as makeshift isolation facilities for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms in several cities with a combined capacity of more than 3,000 beds.
The five ferries have dropped anchors off Jayapura in Papua, Sorong in West Papua, Belawan in North Sumatra, Makassar in South Sulawesi, and Bitung in North Sulawesi.
“The aim of those floating isolation facilities is to move self-isolating patients from their homes, thus reducing the risk of family clusters,” Coordinating Minister for the Economy Airlangga Hartarto said when inspecting the facility at Jayapura Port in Papua.
All the five ships are owned and operated by state-run sea transport company Pelni.
MV Tidar is the biggest among the five and able to accommodate 929 beds. It’s now being stationed off Jayapura, where multi-sport event the National Games will take place later this month.
Airlangga said the number of Covid-19 patients being treated at the facility has dropped sharply to a mere 17 as of Saturday.
The ferry has six doctors, 12 nurses, a nutritionist, two pharmacists, four volunteers and four medical analysts, he said.
MV Tidar arrived in Jayapura on August 14 at the request of the city’s health department. It will continue the service until the conclusion of the National Games in mid-October.
The government is ramping up vaccination in Papua, especially in the cities of Jayapura, Merauke and Mimika that will become the venues of the sporting event.
Airlangga said the entire adult population in the three cities are expected to have received at least a dose of the Covid-19 vaccine by the time the event begins.
“Only vaccinated persons can watch the games on site so hopefully more and more people will come to get the jabs,” he said.
In the coastal city of Sorong in neighboring West Papua, the central government deployed MV Sirimau with a capacity of 449 beds. But in practice, only 160 beds were prepared and the number of patients already fell to just five.
For Makassar, the government sent MV Umsini that can house 785 patients.
The two other ships are MV Bukit Raya stationed in Belawan and MV Tatamailau in Bitung, with a capacity of 450 beds and 448, respectively.
The deployment of makeshift hospital ships came as a solution to curb infections in stricken cities outside of Java and Bali as the local governments don’t have public buildings big enough to accommodate hundreds of patients when hospitals were overloaded.