by Hayati Nupus
JAKARTA, Jan. 15 (Xinhua) -- Hospitals in Indonesia are preparing to deal with cases of the more contagious Omicron variant of COVID-19, which has overwhelmed medical facilities in more than 150 countries, said the Chairperson of the Indonesian Hospital Association Bambang Wibowo.
Wibowo believes that the Southeast Asian country is able to face the third wave of virus attack as long as the number of patients who must be treated does not exceed the capacity of hospital beds and medical workers.
"We have learned a lot from the first and second waves of the transmission," Wibowo told Xinhua in a recent interview.
Several preventative measures have been taken, including providing tens of thousands of oxygen concentrators and other medical equipment.
There are 83,609 beds in 1,011 hospitals for coronavirus patients, a number that could be more if the spike in cases continues.
The Health Ministry predicted a peak of around 60,000 daily new cases in mid-February, but fewer patients would be hospitalized.
"We changed the strategy. Patients with mild to moderate symptoms will undergo isolation at their homes, " Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said recently.
The government has partnered with 17 telemedicine platforms, and those with self-isolation at home could consult with doctors and get medicines and vitamins by ordering online.
Medical workers in hospitals will only serve high-risk coronavirus patients who require special cares.
The number of quarantine facilities in areas near the national border is also on the rise. The facilities include those in Batam (Riau Islands) bordering Singapore, and Entikong on the island of Borneo bordering Malaysia, as well as around Juanda Airport in East Java province where many Indonesian migrant workers return to the country.
A total of 400,000 Molnupiravir antiviral tablets were imported from India and have arrived in Indonesia, while a private domestic company will produce the drugs starting April.
"We don't have to panic. We are well prepared, and experience shows that even if the case rises quickly, the Omicron wave will fall quickly as well," Sadikin said.
The Coordinating Minister for Maritime and Investment Affairs Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan has repeatedly warned that people should not take vacations by going abroad.
Of the 572 cases of the Omicron variant recorded in the archipelagic country, 80 percent were imported cases, mainly from Turkey and Saudi Arabia.
Although the transmission of the Omicron variant has milder symptoms than Delta, if there are too many people infected, it will be dangerous too, Pandjaitan said.