• Sunday, Sep 19, 2021
  • Last Update : 10:33 am

Indonesia turns to telemedicine for Covid-19 as hospitals struggle

  • Published at 12:10 am July 6th, 2021
People wearing protective masks queue to refill oxygen tanks
People wearing protective masks queue to refill oxygen tanks as Indonesia experiences an oxygen supply shortage amid a surge of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases, at a filling station in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 5, 2021 Reuters

With records most days last week and deaths surpassing 500 on several of those, Indonesia is battling one of Asia's worst Covid-19 epidemics, fuelled by the highly contagious Delta variant first identified in India

Indonesia will provide free telemedicine services to coronavirus patients with mild symptoms, its health minister said on Monday, in an effort to reduce pressure on a healthcare sector inundated by record numbers of Covid-19 cases.

With records most days last week and deaths surpassing 500 on several of those, Indonesia is battling one of Asia's worst Covid-19 epidemics, fuelled by the highly contagious Delta variant first identified in India.

Remote services will be provided from Tuesday by telehealth firms such as Alodokter and Halodoc and will include free consultations and medication delivery, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told a news conference.

"Positive Covid-19 patients can get medical services on time without waiting in line at hospitals, so that hospitals can be prioritised for patients with medium, heavy, and critical symptoms," he said.

Hospital bed occupancy was at 75% nationwide as of July 2, the health ministry said, but some hospitals on the most populous island of Java have reported over 90% capacity, including in the capital Jakarta.

Oxygen shortages have also been reported, which authorities attributed to distribution hurdles and limited production capacity.

Local newspaper headlines on Monday showed alarm over the crisis, with "Java's health system paralysed" the Jakarta Post's front page headline in capital letters and "SOS medical services" on the cover of Koran Tempo. 

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Nearly 4 million dead  

The pandemic has killed at least 3,980,935 people since the virus first emerged in December 2019, according to an AFP compilation of official data.

The United States is the worst-affected country with 605,526 deaths, followed by Brazil with 524,417, India with 402,728, Mexico with 233,622 and Peru with 193,230.

The figures are based on reports by health authorities in each country, but do not take into account upward revisions carried out later by statistical bodies. 

The World Health Organization says up to three times more people have died directly or indirectly due to the pandemic than official figures suggest.

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