Ambulance medics carry out bodies exposed to Covid-19 during self-isolation because hospitals were full of Covid-19 patients in Bogor, West Java.
  • Indonesia will give out 300,000 packages with seven days of Covid-19 medicines to patients.
  • The country has been hit by the region's worst coronavirus pandemic, with a total of more than 70,000 deaths so far.
  • One local nurse told Insider that free medicines may help, but what hospitals desperately need is more oxygen.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo announced on Thursday that his government would be doling out 300,000 free packages of Covid-19 medicine and vitamins to coronavirus patients in an effort to aid those being turned away by overcrowded hospitals and medical facilities.

Each package will include a seven-day supply of vitamins, said Widodo in a broadcast available on YouTube. He added that the distribution would be carried out under "strict supervision" to ensure it does not disrupt supplies to medical facilities. Patients with mild to moderate symptoms would need a prescription from their doctors to receive additional therapeutic Covid medications.

Indonesia is currently facing Southeast Asia's worst pandemic surge, with a total of 2.72 million cases and 70,192 deaths as of Thursday.

Authorities have said the rapid rise in cases is mostly fueled by the Delta variant, which in May caused a massive spike of infections and deaths in India.

Indonesia's medical infrastructure is under siege, especially on the islands of Bali and Java. Prices there have skyrocketed for unproven drugs that are rumored to help treat Covid-19.

Oxygen constantly runs short in hospitals, and many patients have died while self-isolating after being turned away by overwhelmed medical facilities.

"It's terrifying. Our hospital has converted every room except one to treat the CovidD-19 patients. But every shift, I am turning away at least 10 people," said an emergency ward nurse who wishes to remain anonymous for security reasons. He works at a private hospital with a maximum capacity of 600 patients in central Jakarta.

"I am constantly exposed to positive cases. There are people lying on the hospital floors. They bring patients to me in wheelchairs, who are already dead when they reach me," he told Insider.

"Sometimes it takes up to five days to get a PCR swab test result back from the testing facilities, so we are not always completely sure if a patient has Covid-19 or not."

He said free medicine and vitamins might help ease the country's suffering, but only to a small degree.

"What we need most is oxygen, nothing else is going to help much now," said the nurse, saying that some of his patients only receive a third of the oxygen they need.

Indonesia is planning to import oxygen from overseas nations such as Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, and China, said a minister overseeing the pandemic response on Thursday, according to CNBC Indonesia.

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