Indonesia’s hospitals in Covid crisis as car parks turned into emergency rooms

Indonesia’s hospitals in Covid crisis as car parks turned into emergency rooms

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Standing outside the glass wall at one of the emergency installations in a hospital in Tangerang, Benten, Uta Verina Maukar, 26, looked at her mother as she lay resting on a bed. She texted her mother, telling her that she was standing outside. Her mother looked at her from across the room, and with an oxygen mask on her face, tried to sit up so she could see her better. They both looked at each other like that for a while. That was the last time Uta saw her mother’s face.

She died from Covid the following day. She was 51.

For Uta and her brother, Varrio Sanel Maukar, 24, everything happened so quickly. When his mother tested positive for Covid on Monday, Varrio tried to stay calm. Her oxygen saturation was about 93%. The next day it dropped to 89%. That Tuesday Varrio visited four hospitals but their intensive rooms were all full.

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“I called dozens of hospitals and they either did not pick up my calls or informed me that their beds were all occupied,” Uta said.

Uta said the health ministry’s website, Siranap – which is supposed to give up-to-date information on the bed availability – was unreliable. The data online didn’t match the situation inside hospitals.

Varrio found a bed in the fifth hospital he tried. But by then their mother needed specialist care.

“Doctors said she must be in the intensive care units. But they told us they were running out of beds and ventilators at the ICU,” Varrio said.

Their mother was kept in a room with five other patients; all were in a similar critical condition and waiting for a space in ICU. She died after two days in hospital.

As Covid cases have risen sharply over the past few weeks in Indonesia, more and more families like Varrio and Uta have been forced to say goodbye to their relatives. Many of them have died without receiving proper medical treatment.


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