Jakarta. The Indonesian government is preparing a makeshift hospital at one of the buildings that used to house athletes during the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, in anticipation of a sudden surge in the number of Covid-19 patients, officials said on Wednesday.
Confirmed Covid-19 cases in Southeast Asia’s most populous country soared to 227 on Wednesday from 172 a day earlier, while fatalities almost quadrupled to 19.
Indonesia’s case fatality rate of 8.37 percent beats that of Italy and Iran, and is well above the global average of 4.07 percent according to the World Health Organization.
“The government is preparing the Athletes’ Village for those who cannot undergo treatment at home and to add capacity of the existing hospitals. We are preparing around 1,800 beds," Vice President Ma'ruf Amin said at his official residence in Central Jakarta.
He said the number of Covid-19 patients increased significantly as more people had come to get laboratory tests with pneumonia-like symptoms such as fever, coughs, throat aches and breathing difficulties.
Separately, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati said in a tele-conference the Athletes’ Village was the most ready facility to be modified as makeshift hospital for Covid-19 patients.
"This facility is ready to house patients because it already has electricity, water, bedrooms and other utilities. We need a place for patients to isolate themselves to prevent the spread of the disease, and we pick the Athletes’ Village," Sri Mulyani said.
The Athletes’ Village was built in March 2016 in Kemayoran, comprising 10 towers that together have nearly 7,500 residential units. Every unit has a space of 36 square meters with two bedrooms. Those towers were completed in February 2018 and six months later became the accommodation center of the Asian Games.
A senior official of the Public Works and Housing Ministry told news website Kompas that the works to prepare the makeshift hospital commenced immediately on Wednesday evening.
The idea to use the Athletes’ Village came from the city government, as many suspected Covid-19 patients in Jakarta have no proper rooms to self-isolate at their homes.
Achmad Yurianto, the spokesman for the government handling of coronavirus outbreak, said the number of cases is expected to increase as the government plans to conduct mass Covid-19 tests in the near future.
“We will procure rapid testing kits, but we must first set up a place to accommodate [patients] before a mass examination is conducted. Therefore we prepare the Athletes’ Village,” Achmad said in a daily news conference in Jakarta.