At least 70 doctors and 50 nurses have died from coronavirus in Indonesia, with hundreds more contracting the disease while fighting the pandemic.
The Indonesian Medical Association estimates between 200 and 300 of the country’s 160,000 doctors had been infected by the virus. In the second week of July alone 14 doctors died from the disease.
The National Nurses Association said that at least 300 of the country’s 1.3 million nurses have contracted the disease, but cautioned the figure could be higher. In both instances, accurate data is not readily available.
The associations are calling for regular testing of medical workers, guaranteed access to personal protective equipment (PPE) and greater education to slow the spread of the disease.
Indonesia had recorded 104,432 coronavirus cases as of Wednesday, while 4975 people have died. Epidemiologists suggest the true infection and death rates could be much higher because of the relative low testing rate of about 5200 per million people.
The number of daily cases has been rising for more than a month, following the government’s decision to begin easing social restrictions at the start of June, and averaging about 1600 per day. Wednesday’s 2381 new cases was the second-highest to date, with Jakarta province topping the list with 577 new infections.
Doctor Erlina Burhan, COVID-19 spokeswoman for the Medical Association, said that in the early days of the pandemic, a shortage of personal protective equipment had been a major problem for medical workers but that had eased.
“In the beginning of the pandemic and doctors were exhausted and their immune system was down. The number of patients went down in May and June but now in July we received more patients again here in Persahabatan hospital,” she said.
Dr Zubairi Djoerban, also from the Medical Association, said there was no regular testing for health workers.
“Tests are conducted only when there is a case. As in my hospital [a private, referral hospital], one employee was infected by COVID-19 then all hospital workers – not only doctors – took PCR tests. It was free, it was carried out by the Jakarta health office,” he said