Alarming footage showing long line of ambulances at Jakarta’s emergency COVID-19 hospital not a sign of overcapacity: official

When Jakarta restored strict restrictions this week, the provincial government also moved to prohibit self-quarantine at home for all COVID-19 patients, even asymptomatic ones. A video of a long line of ambulances waiting to go inside a COVID-19 hospital may have been the direct result of that, even if officials are playing down concerns of hospital overcapacity in the capital.

The videos, which were taken yesterday evening, show the ambulances queueing outside the Wisma Atlet COVID-19 Emergency Hospital in Kemayoran, Central Jakarta. On social media, the videos have moved people to warn each other to take the viral disease seriously.

The situation at Wisma Atlet tonight. Queues of ambulances transporting COVID-19 patients.

Ambulances lining up outside to enter Wisma Atlet. Take care of yourself, adhere to health protocols.

The videos prompted a comment from Wisma Atlet’s Deputy Commander of Integrated Joint Task Command M. Saleh Mustafa, who confirmed the legitimacy of those clips. However, Saleh emphasized that the queues were not due to the overcapacity of the emergency hospital.

“We still have vacant beds. The problem [that caused the ambulances to line up] was there was only one door operational as an entrance,” Saleh said.

“We will fix it today, there will be two entrances. Door 1 or lane 1 for those who are going to tower 6 and 7, for patients with symptoms; door 2 or lane 2 for tower 5, which is dedicated for asymptomatic patients.”

With concerns mounting that Jakarta will soon run out of hospital beds amid huge spikes in new COVID-19 cases lately, Wisma Atlet also went viral just last week after a photo of the facility with the lights on in all of its rooms circulated widely on social media. 

Related ⁠— Seemingly full COVID-19 emergency hospital in Jakarta not actually full, task force says

Netizens took that photo to mean that the facility, which housed athletes for the 2018 Asian Games before it was transformed into the only temporary specialized hospital for COVID-19 patients in Jakarta, is fully occupied. A drone video taken around that time also seemingly showed that the hospital was operating at full capacity.

However, COVID-19 task force spokesman Wiku Adisasmito later clarified that Wisma Atlet, which was then housing some 1,600 patients, is far from fully occupied as it has the capacity of at least 2,700 rooms. As of yesterday, there are 1,641 patients reportedly being treated at the emergency hospital.

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