Indonesia’s health minister said on Monday that his country will offer coronavirus patient with mild symptoms free telemedicine services, in an effort to reduce pressure on a healthcare sector inundated by record numbers of COVID-19 cases.
With records most days last week and deaths surpassing 500 on several of those, Indonesia is fighting one of Asia’s worst COVID-19 epidemics, fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant first identified in India.
Remote services will be provided from Tuesday by telehealth firms such as Alodokter and Halodoc and will include free consultations and medication delivery, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told a news conference.
“Positive COVID-19 patients can get medical services on time without waiting in line at hospitals, so that hospitals can be prioritized for patients with medium, heavy, and critical symptoms,” he said.
Hospital bed occupancy was at 75 percent nationwide as of July 2, the health ministry said, but some hospitals on the most populous island of Java have reported over 90% capacity, including in the capital Jakarta.
Oxygen shortages have also been reported, which authorities attributed to distribution hurdles and limited production capacity.