Jakarta, Indonesia – Adang has been a cemetery in Indonesia’s capital for six years – but he never had to work this hard.
Before the coronovirus epidemic occurred six months ago, he used to bury three to four dead bodies a day in the Pondok Rangagon cemetery in Jakarta. Now, it is over 25.
“We have buried so many people,” he said. “We are tired.”
Indonesia is the most affected country in South East Asia in COVID-19 deaths, with more than 8,000 deaths reported so far.
As the numbers continue to grow, the Pandok Rangagon cemetery is filling up rapidly and officials expect it to reach full capacity by next month if current trends continue.
In June, authorities in Jakarta began loosening restrictions imposed in April, reopening many businesses, restaurants and offices. But three months later – as doctors warned that the healthcare system is on the verge of collapse – the Jakarta governor said the time had come to re-implement the partial shutdown.
“This is an emergency, more urgent than the onset of the epidemic,” Anis Baswedan said on Wednesday, The city’s 10 million people should once again work from home, study and pray.
The restrictions implemented since Monday are similar to the restrictions that were imposed in the first year: public transport is limited, restaurants can only serve takeaways, and many offices are closed or have capacity limitations.
Busveden said isolation rooms and intensive care units in COVID-19 referral hospitals are about 80-percent occupied – and will go out of bed in weeks if the city continues on the same trajectory.
He said, “It is about saving the people of Jakarta. If we keep this up – there will not be a situation in hospitals and the result will be a high mortality rate.”
Doctors fear the most
Doctors in Jakarta have welcomed the move, but many believe the restrictions should not have been relaxed in the first place.
“We think the situation is getting scary. The number of cases is increasing day by day, and there is no tendency to show a decline,” Dr. Said Erlina Burhan, from Pesabatan Hospital.
And, like cemeteries, medical workers in the capital say they are overexposed and tired.
“It’s like a marathon since March – there’s no breaking it,” Burhan said. “A lot of health workers are already saying they are tired – tired of doing so.”
To date, Indonesia has reported 221,000 confirmed coronovirus cases.
Burhan said that if the infection continued to grow, doctors at his hospital would be forced to “play the role of God” and decide who to treat and who would go away.
“I’m afraid of a situation where we can’t help everyone who needs help. We’re afraid of being overwhelmed.”
At least 200 medical personnel have died from COVID-19 in Indonesia, a country where the healthcare system was already understood and underestimated before the epidemic.
At Pertamina Hospital, another designated COVID-19 treatment facility, Dr. Shande Shanaya, said that she goes into work because of fear for her life.
The 26-year-old said, “We can’t see this as just another number. When a medical professional dies, think of all those people who lose access to healthcare.”
“We tried to open very fast. We opened the city before the trend subsided,” he said.
Low income residents struggle
But in a country as diverse and populous as Indonesia, home to nearly 270 million people, efforts to prevent fresh outbreaks and restore livelihoods are no easy solution.
In Jakarta, another round of sanctions may help combat the spread of the virus, but will make the lives of its poor residents even more challenging.
The withdrawal of the lockdown will once again put many low-paid informal workers out of work and without any income to support themselves or their families.
“If the shop is closed … there are no customers, and I don’t get paid,” said Zulkifli, a barber in a small salon that doesn’t have a fixed wage.
“It’s the only thing I know how to do, I can’t work in other fields,” he said.
Zulfikar, a salon operating in Zulfikli, is one of several businesses across Jakarta, forced to close its doors once again.
Authorities have promised assistance to help the needy, but Zulkifli said he missed any aid in the final round of sanctions.
“I know we need to address the epidemic. But I also need money for our children. We need food, we need to pay for our expenses … and I have an income.” Is, “he said.
At Pandok Rangagon Cemetery, Adang and his colleagues continue to dig graves, as more coffins are wrapped in the arrival of sanitized plastic.
“I’m afraid of my concerns and doing this work,” Adang said. “I just have to trust God – I try not to burden my mind. We just have to go with it.”