Health workers setting up isolation cubicles at Tanah Abang Art Building, Jakarta, last May. (SP Photo/Joanito de Saojao)

Mixed Reactions to Jakarta Plan to Oblige Covid-19 Isolation at Gov't Facilities

BY :JAYANTY NADA SHOFA & YUSTINUS PAAT

SEPTEMBER 03, 2020

Jakarta. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan’s plan to ban self-isolation for Covid-19 patients regardless of their symptom severity has divided opinions, with many sharing concerns on overcapacity at hospitals.

The Jakarta administration will soon issue a regulation that would require all Covid-19 patients, including asymptomatic ones, to be quarantined in government facilities and thus ultimately removing self-isolation at home.

"We are currently working on the regulation regarding isolation in Jakarta. Those who tested positive will be well-isolated to prevent them from spreading the virus," Anies said in a webinar on Thursday, as quoted by Jakarta Globe's sister publication Beritasatu.

According to Anies, the policy is necessary as self-isolating patients have not been compliant. Family members also ignore health protocols and this causes household clusters to emerge. 

The governor has yet to detail the number of patients who have spread the pneumonia-like disease when recovering at home. Nor the data on household clusters triggered by non-complying self-quarantine patients.

Earlier on Tuesday, Anies specified patients with moderate to severe symptoms would be directed to Covid-19 referral hospitals. Those with mild or no symptoms would be quarantined at Athletes' Village, the capital's largest isolation facility.

This had also already been discussed with President Joko Widodo (Jokowi), Anies added.

The plan, however, receives mixed responses.

Several factions in the Jakarta City Council feared the regulation would overwhelm hospitals. 

"It is not a problem if our hospital capacity can handle it but this is unrealistic. All this time, hospitals cannot take care of everyone. It is not just Covid-19 patients they are accommodating and this is what self-isolation is for," Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDIP) faction member Johny Simanjuntak said.

Indonesian Solidarity Party (PSI) faction head Idris Ahmad said putting all Covid-19 patients in isolation is the right move, but may have already been too late. The capital's positivity rate has exceeded 10 percent or twice the amount of the World Health Organization's standards. An estimated 70 percent of intense care units have already been occupied.

If Anies decides to proceed with the plan, there are several things that need to be taken care of. Among them is a detailed scheme for daily wage workers.

"Will they receive any social assistance? Will they be protected from lay off? All of these points have not been put to detail," Idris said.

Idris also warned the Jakarta administration of families unwilling to send their kin away for isolation.

According to Adib Khumaidi, Indonesia Doctors Association (IDI) deputy chairman, the effectiveness of self-isolation depends on the living conditions and supervision. It is almost impossible for people residing in highly dense areas to self-isolate properly with houses built so close to each other. Self-isolation without any supervision by the nearest clinic is also ineffective.

Because of this, IDI supported Anies' plan as long as it does not overburden health facilities and medical personnel. To do so, the gov't can provide non-hospital facilities to house asymptomatic patients.

"It does not have to be a hospital, but a place [where people can self-isolate]. In Athletes' Village, there is a tower that is dedicated for asymptomatic patients. Several regions such as Central Java and East Java had also prepared houses as quarantines for self-isolation," Adib told local online media Detik on Wednesday.

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