Reflecting on How Well Teluk Bintuni Anticipated COVID-19 in West Papua

West Papua

The spread of coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been affecting 34 provinces in Indonesia, including West Papua. As the virus keeps on infecting, each of the provinces and regional governments have been doing their best to prevent and rehabilitate the virus spread.

In West Papua, Teluk Bintuni is one of the districts that have the fastest anticipation of COVID-19. As of early November 2020, there were only two patients left and the high rate of recovery made this region a model for other regions in this province. 

Almost 100% Rate on Recovery

West Papua

Teluk Bintuni, despite the high rate of cases, the recovery rate of the active cases were almost 100%. In accumulation, from 607 cases, 597 of them experienced a full recovery. In percentage, it is around 95.1%, way above Sorong that has an 88.1% rate of recovery, Manokwari in 75.7%, and Raja Ampat in 93.5%. Meanwhile, Fakfak and Tambrauw Regency are the only two regencies that have a 100% rate of recovery. 

This could be because Teluk Bintuni is the first region to have a PCR test. Before that, the PCR test needs to be taken to Makassar for a laboratory test, which took a long time to get the result. In 2016, some members of the Department of Health of West Papua in Teluk Bintuni including Dr. Victor Eka Nugrahaputra, participated in the Australia Awards to learn about the Malaria endemic that has been a problem in West Papua for decades.

In Malaria prevention and treatment, five key programs need to be considered: 

  1. Involvement of the community
  2. Integration with the current program
  3. Training and continuing support for the program
  4. Quality assurance
  5. Local ownership of the program

With those being said, the program of prevention and treatment for any diseases or pandemic would be effective if the medical staff can work together with the local government and community. The medical department set out the protocols, supported by the government and executed by the community. Without the three of the elements working together, the COVID-19 cases can be out of control. 

They have been practicing for the prevention and treatment of Malaria for years. Thus, the adopted strategy of Malaria to face the COVID-29 pandemic has been quick and successful. Head of Service of Department of Health in Teluk Bintuni, Dr. Victor Eka Nugrahaputra also claimed that the coordination with the local government also supported the success of this region in handling the pandemic. 

Since day one of the pandemics spread in Teluk Bintuni, intense communication was built to coordinate every needs and strategy, from the distribution of apparel, medical tools, and others. The help of the Department of Health in the Capital City was also one of the supporting traits in handling the pandemics.

Furthermore, a quick contact tracing and the coordination from all the patients also contribute to the success of this region. However, active cases are still expected to come before the vaccines are available in the area.

What about the Rest of West Papua and Indonesia?

West Papua

The cases in West Papua and Indonesia have been fluctuating with a slight increase entering this November. The practice of transitioning from a full lockdown to a new normal might have been the cause. However, people are getting used to the practice of health protocols, so we can get back to our activities with increased awareness and safety.

On the 22nd of November, there were 4,360 new confirmed cases, adding to the 497,668 cases nationwide. Rapid tests are now a norm, especially when one needs to travel to other areas. Meanwhile, PCR tests are a gold standard for the high suspect of COVID-19 and to confirm a full recovery. 

However, a recovered person is not reluctant to the virus with a possibility of re-contracting it. So, health protocols and a healthy lifestyle should be emphasized among the people—either they have a high risk of the virus or not. 

We Have Yet to Conquer This Battle

West Papua

Since the first outbreak in Indonesia around February 2020, the provincial governments have been trying their best to prevent the disease from spreading even further. Now, as we enter the ninth month of the pandemic, it is not safe to say yet that we have gotten through it. 

Though currently, the vaccines for the COVID-19 have entered the last stage of testing, we still have ways to go until the vaccines ready and available for all. In the meantime, Teluk Bintuni officials offer a free PCR test for the area around and outside this region for free. They offer a free of charge, in the understanding of how the pandemics have been affected the local economy, so the free PCR test is hoped to be one way to help the patients of COVID-19.

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