The bed occupancy rate in a number of hospitals in Papua has almost reached capacity amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. Local health officials are bracing for the impact of the spread of the Delta variant.
Dr Aaron Rumainum, Head of the Disease Control and Prevention Unit of the Papua Health Service, said the bed occupancy rate in several hospitals in Papua had reached 100 percent and forced them to use emergency units and tents to treat COVID-19 patients.
“We have the same problem with Java. The isolation rooms are full and lack of oxygen,” he told Reuters, adding that the Delta variant, which was first identified in India, has now been detected in the province.
Silwanus Sumule, spokesperson for the COVID-19 Task Force and Deputy Director of the Jayapura General Hospital (RSUD) said the bed occupancy rate reached around 57% for Papua Province. However, in the capital city of Jayapura, the occupancy rate exceeds 96%.
Silwanus said that currently there are 47 people waiting in the corridor because they did not get a room.
“Maybe 47 is not a large number for areas like Java, but here (the number) is very large,” he said. “We’ve never experienced this before, putting patients in a corridor like that.”
Papua’s health facilities, which consist of the provinces of Papua and West Papua, are inadequate and vaccination rates are low, making them very vulnerable to exposure to the coronavirus outbreak.
“Before COVID, there were already endemic diseases in Papua that were not handled properly, such as malaria and tuberculosis, plus this emergency situation,” said Adriana Elisabeth, a political observer from the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) who researches Papua.
“If the government doesn’t restrict mobility, the healthcare system will surely collapse.”
Local media reported earlier this week that Papua Governor Lukas Enembe said he was considering blocking access to and from the province to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Indonesia has reported more than 2.9 million coronavirus cases and 77,000 deaths since the start of the pandemic. With an accelerating caseload and high death rate, Indonesia is now the epicenter of the outbreak in Asia. Public health experts say the actual number of people infected may be several times higher.
Our World in Data reports that the death rate in the country due to COVID-19 is more than three times the world level on July 20. [ah/au/ft]