Elderly Indonesian doctor who went viral for joining fight against COVID-19 reportedly in intensive care

A senior Indonesian doctor named Handoko Gunawan has won immense praise from the public for helping in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic despite his advanced age. Photo: Facebook/Noviana Kusumawardhani
A senior Indonesian doctor named Handoko Gunawan has won immense praise from the public for helping in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic despite his advanced age. Photo: Facebook/Noviana Kusumawardhani

A senior Indonesian doctor named Handoko Gunawan, who has won immense praise from the public for helping in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic despite his advanced age, has reportedly fallen ill with a respiratory illness.

The story of Dr. Handoko first appeared in a Facebook post posted by a user named Noviana Kusumawardhani. She posted a photo of the doctor yesterday, wearing a full protective suit and a mask. 

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10157072716612078&set=a.10151216491877078

“May you please also pray for one of the doctors handling COVID-19, Dr. [Handoko], a lung specialist at Grha Kedoya, his age is nearing 80. At the moment he works until three in the morning. His children have advised him not to jump in because he’s old, but he said it’s okay if he dies,” Noviana wrote in her post, which included a #COVID19Heroes hashtag.

“We’re supposed to start [spreading] news like this rather than keep on spreading fear … His dedication for humanity is extraordinary.”

At the time of writing, Noviana’s post has received more than 11K reactions and 7K shares, though screenshots of it have been widely shared on other platforms, too, especially on Twitter. A hashtag of his name, #dokterhandokogunawan, has been trending on Twitter since this morning.

The authenticity of Dr. Handoko’s story has been confirmed by the chairman of the Indonesian Pulmonologist Association (PDPI), Agus Dwi Susanto.

“Yes, he is a pulmonologist, a member of the Jakarta chapter of PDPI. Every pulmonologist in a hospital, even though it’s not the [official] referral hospital, becomes the frontline to accept suspected [COVID-19] patients to their hospital, before they’re referred to the referral hospitals,” dr. Agus told Detik today.

According to reports, Dr. Handoko was treating patients at a hospital in the Kebon Jeruk sub-district of West Jakarta. His dedication to treat those who are ill amid a public health crisis appears to have touched many Indonesians, especially considering that senior citizens are among the most at-risk groups for COVID-19 infections.

As a result of his hard work, Dr. Handoko reportedly fell ill and is currently being treated.

“Dr. Handoko Gunawan is currently under the care of the hospital and competent medical staff. He’s in a conscious condition and is able to communicate well [of course, the communication is limited],” a written statement issued by his family reads, as reported by Liputan 6 today.

His family also thanked the public for the sympathy and prayers for the senior pulmonologist.

Though the specifics of Dr. Handoko’s illness is not yet known, actress/politician Kirana Larasati yesterday shared a viral tweet saying that the senior doctor has been having difficulty breathing and is in intensive care.

Separately, Achmad Yurianto, Indonesia’s spokesman for COVID-19-related matters, said the government will not prohibit Dr. Handoko from taking part in the fight against the coronavirus, even at his age.

“There’s no problem, as long as the doctor is a real doctor. This is a profession, as long as he still possesses the certificate to do his profession then it’s no problem, since there’s no age limit to be a doctor,” Achmad told CNN Indonesia today, adding that he personally knows Dr. Handoko.

“He knows the risk, and he’s very senior. I’m the one who should learn from him.”

According to Health Ministry data, as of this morning, Indonesia has 172 confirmed domestic COVID-19 cases, with nine recoveries and seven deaths. Indonesia has performed tests for the coronavirus on at least 1,255 suspected patients, 1,083 of whom tested negative.

 

Read Also ⁠— Indonesian officials, wives go on Euro trip amid coronavirus outbreak

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