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Indonesians Raise Funds for Health Workers’ COVID-19 Protective Gear

Arie Firdaus
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Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (right) and Erick Thohir, minister of State-owned Enterprises, inspect equipment in a COVID-19 emergency hospital set up in the athletes’ village used during the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, March 23, 2020.
Indonesian President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo (right) and Erick Thohir, minister of State-owned Enterprises, inspect equipment in a COVID-19 emergency hospital set up in the athletes’ village used during the 2018 Asian Games in Jakarta, March 23, 2020.

Ordinary citizens, activists and celebrities are raising money online to buy protective gear for health workers on the frontline of Indonesia’s fight against COVID-19, which has killed at least five doctors and a nurse who treated infected people.

Hospital workers have gone on social media to raise awareness about the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) including masks, gloves and hazmat suits.

On Friday, talk show host Najwa Shihab launched the “Unity against Coronavirus” fund-raising campaign featuring several musicians. Those efforts have raised more than 200 million rupiah (U.S. $12,000).

“As we stay home, thousands of medics are working hard, risking their lives to treat COVID-19 patients,” she wrote on the local fundraising website “Let’s show our solidarity with Indonesian medical workers who are on the front line in the fight against coronavirus.”

A similar appeal by Instagram star Rachel Venya has raised more than 6.7 billion rupiah ($404,000) since its launch last week.

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Indonesia rose to 579 on Monday, an increase of 65 from the previous day, according to the Health Ministry. Another patient died, bringing the nationwide death toll to 49, while 30 patients have recovered, ministry spokesman Achmad Yurianto said. Jakarta has become the country’s coronavirus epicenter, with 353 cases and 29 deaths.

The Indonesian Doctors Association reported that five physicians and at least one nurse who treated COVID-19 patients had died after being infected with the disease, while another physician suffered a fatal heart attack caused by exhaustion.

The Indonesian death toll from the disease, which was first detected in Wuhan, China, is the largest among countries in Southeast Asia.

The pandemic so far has killed more than 16,300 people and infected at least 370,000 others worldwide, according to the latest data compiled by infectious-disease experts at Johns Hopkins University in the United States.

On Monday, President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo announced that medical workers who treat coronavirus patients would be given a monthly bonus of up to 15 million rupiah ($900) a month.

“The Ministry of Finance will provide monthly incentives. Specialists are given 15 million rupiah, general practitioners and dentists 10 million ($600), midwives and nurses 7.5 million ($450), and other medical personnel 5 million ($300),” Jokowi said.

Jokowi said the family of medical personnel who died would be given 300 million rupiah ($18,000) each.

Meanwhile, the former 2018 Asian Games athletes’ village in central Jakarta that was converted into a facility to treat COVID-19 patients opened on Monday. The facility is equipped with a lab, pharmacy, radiology and intensive care unit.

Yurianto said it could treat up to 3,000 patients who exhibit mild to moderate symptoms.

PPE shortages

One Indonesian doctor treating coronavirus patients reported that, as a result of a shortage of protective gear, he was forced to wear a raincoat.

“It’s getting harder by the day. Patients continue to come, most of them showing symptoms such as coughing, fever and difficulty breathing. I wore only a raincoat all day and the nurses were wearing plastic aprons,” Gia Pratama, a doctor and writer, wrote on Twitter.

In addition, public and private hospitals have made online appeals for donations.

The Cempaka Putih Islamic Hospital in Jakarta posted that it had a shortage of N95 masks, hazmat suits, protective goggles and gloves.

Yurianto said help was on the way with the government planning to distribute 105,000 pieces of protective gear to health workers in 22 provinces.

“A total of 125,000 rapid test kits will also be distributed throughout Indonesia and we will start moving today,” Yurianto said.

The military’s Hercules C-130 cargo aircraft delivered 7.2 tons of protective clothing, 800 kg (1,760 pounds) of masks, 110 kg (241 pounds) of gloves and 775 kg (1,700 pounds) of protective glasses on Monday.

The supplies were donated by China to help Indonesia fight the outbreak, Defense Minister Prabowo Subianto told reporters at Halim Perdanakusuma airbase in Jakarta.

“This is a form of international cooperation between friendly countries. We support and help each other,” he said.

State of emergency

In Jakarta, Gov. Anies Baswedan imposed a 14-day state of emergency for the capital city on Monday. His order means that all entertainment outlets are to be closed and the public transportation network will run with a reduced fleet and operating hours.

Businesses have been urged to reduce to a minimum the number of employees on duty.

Some groups have raised funds online for street vendors, app-based taxi drivers and others who are affected by the closures.

Fund-raising campaigns could be a signal that the public is not pleased by the government’s handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, said Paulus Wirutomo, a sociologist at the University of Indonesia.

“It could be the case, but it’s also evidence that by working together, we can get through this tribulation,” he told BenarNews.

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