Weak tracing efforts, patients refusing isolation hampering Bali’s fight against COVID-19: IDI

Patients have had to be treated in the hallways at Buleleng General Hospital on Aug. 1. Photo: Istimewa
Patients have had to be treated in the hallways at Buleleng General Hospital on Aug. 1. Photo: Istimewa

Bali is struggling coping with weak tracing efforts and individuals refusing to isolate, the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI) said this week, with limited medical supply and facilities also posing added challenges in the province’s battle against COVID-19. 

“The reality now is that tracing is low; only three to five people are traced from one confirmed patient, while the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends from 20 to 30 people for tracing, so this is quite hard,” I Gede Putra Suteja, Head of IDI in Bali, said during a virtual press conference.

Suteja also said that some patients are refusing to isolate, whether on their own or in facilities provided by the government. 

“People fear tracing because it might lead them to be taken to a centered isolation facility that’s far away. [There are cases] of individuals showing symptoms when they are examined, but they don’t want to be tested because they fear losing their jobs, or having to be isolated,” Suteja said. 

According to IDI Bali, the province also struggles with limited supply of isolation facilities, ICU rooms, and oxygen, as the province continues to record over 1,000 cases daily in the last three weeks. 

“Our isolation is limited, ICU is limited. Oxygen is also limited because of imbalanced demand and supply, to the point that health agency chiefs and the task force have been buying oxygen from other regions,” Suteja said. 

Similar struggles further east

These myriad of problems extend beyond Bali, with the West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) chapter of IDI also reporting other struggles, such as a shortage of health workers and medical tools. 

“The resources are not very good, there’s no lung specialist or ventilators, and we are still lacking in specialists in the Sumbawa area,” Head of IDI NTB, Doddy Kumolo, said. 

Rohadi, who heads IDI in Mataram City, said that daily cases in NTB have been increasing even though cases are declining in Java. The neurosurgeon said that he has been unable to perform surgeries in the past three days due to lack of oxygen supply. 

Though the Indonesian central government previously mentioned ramping up efforts on testing and tracing following the concerning case spike in recent weeks across Indonesia, Doddy said those plans have yet to be fully realized. 

“Government should do more than talking, those efforts need to actually be realized because advice from fellow epidemiologists say that testing and tracing must be stepped up.” 

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