03/31/2020, 16.49
INDONESIA
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As Indonesian hospitals cope with lack of antivirus gear, Catholics respond to the crisis (video-photos)

by Mathias Hariyadi

Sisters warn that medical staff risk their lives. Only state hospitals and other public facilities are supposed to treat coronavirus patients. Catholic facilities will not turn away people who come for help. An Anti-COVID-19 Catholic Network is set up in Jakarta. Buddhists help. In Wedi, young parishioners hand out free packages.

Jakarta (AsiaNews) – In the past four days, dozens of Catholic hospitals in Java and West Kalimantan (Borneo) have expressed alarm over their lack of protective gear and medical equipment to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus.

“We are very concerned about this matter,” said Sister Athanasia, SFS, speaking to AsiaNews. Shortages are “endangering our medical teams,” added the nun, who works at the Rumah Sakit Misi Lebak, a missionary-run hospital in Rangkasbitung, Banten province.

Saint Carolus hospital, central Jakarta’s largest and favourite Catholic hospital, is in the same situation. Several Catholic hospitals in Bandung, Central Java, East Java and West Kalimantan have asked for help as they too need protective gear and antivirus equipment.

“Our medical team have run out” of supplies, said Sister Lucia Wahyu, provincial superior of the Augustinian Sisters of Divine Mercy (OSA), speaking about the shortages at the Rumah Sakit Sumber Sentosa Hospital in Tumpang, Malang Regency (East Java), the main healthcare provider for the people living near Mount Bromo.

Indonesian health authorities have decided that only state hospitals and other public facilities can accommodate and treat COVID-19 patients and people suspected of having the virus. However, Sister Athanasia, Sister Lucia and Sister Mauritia note that “We cannot turn away those who come to us with flu-like symptoms.”

In some places, cheaper equipment is being made locally. “We made these things, mostly face masks, by ourselves to protect our medical team,” said Sister Maria Seba, a member of the Franciscan nuns of the Immaculate Conception of the Mother of God (SFIC), and human resources director at the Saint Vincentius Hospital in Singkawang, West Kalimantan province.

Members of the Catholic clergy, Catholic professionals and Catholic youth have responded to appeals on social media made by medical facilities.

The Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Foundation also responded to the appeal for solidarity. With its Indonesian headquarters in North Jakarta, the international Buddhist charity has also provided medical gear and masks.

In Jakarta, a Catholic organisation, the Anti-COVID-19 Catholic Network (Jaringan Katolik Melawan Covid-19, JKMC), was set up to raise public awareness about the coronavirus, promote social distancing, and provide information to Catholic hospitals about protective equipment purchases.

Muliawan Margadana is behind the group. “The JKMC is supported by professional people and academics, including medical doctors and priests.” Its aim is “to show Catholic compassion to the nation, provide assistance to the neediest institutions, and address the most urgent matters, including protective gear shortages.”

Help from the JKMC has been crucial for Panti Rapih Hospital, an important medical facility in Yogyakarta. “Thank God for the awareness campaign on social media,” said Sister Yosefine, CB, happy that a private company stepped in to provide protective great.

In Wedi, Klaten (Central Java), state and Catholic hospitals received “lots of free-of-charge packages,” thanks to local Catholic youth, said FX Supriyono, a staff member at St Mary the Immaculate Mother of Christ Parish Church.

Everything began with “​​Fr Supranowo, the parish priest. At least 600 face shields have been distributed,” said Agus Jayatun, an engineering lecturer from Wedi.

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Catholic youth from Wedi
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