The COVID-19 Task Force in NTT Slept Soundly

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A medical staff member checks a blood sample during a free coronavirus COVID-19 test sponsored by the Indonesian National Police in Jakarta on June 21, 2020. (AFP / Adek Berry)


By: Dominggus Elcid Li ^



(Member of the NTT Academia Forum, and Deputy Chair of the NTT Province Community Health Biomolecular Laboratory Pool Test Team)


Media  – The saddest thing about the behavior of officials in NTT is that if any criticism is made, it is immediately considered as going to attack “their personal”, as if the criticism was targeting “private affairs”.

Rarely is anyone able to see that the presence of criticism is an absolute prerequisite for improving the system of living together. Although democracy is entrenched in religious institutions on a scale of many centuries here, as an individual the consciousness of democracy is “almost empty” or non-existent.

They do not understand a simple adage like this: “[M] the seeing cannot see his own eyes”.

Although the understanding that criticism will always be misunderstood by these myopic humans, this paper is still required to be made to maintain ‘common sanity’.

Yes, I was forced to break a promise for my youngest brother who died last month to “don’t fight” before the 40 days were over.

The prolonged mourning when so many unsanitary deaths are left unchecked is certainly not true. _ Of course you agree! It’s not that I disrespect you, but there are so many human lives at stake if beta keeps silent in the name of mourning courtesy.

One of the dark sides of the COVID-19 pandemic is when victims die and are buried in silence. Let alone the 40 days of mourning, even 1 day the victim does not get a “sacred touch”.
Patients who died were not served with death rites with which they were familiar. He who goes away is certainly no longer sad, but those who are left behind are forever living in trauma that will never be finished because a rite of life is missing.

They have never been prepared to accept the loss of a loved one, who goes away in the form of a “hunk of virus” and is considered dangerous. The funeral process is carried out as clinically as possible and takes place in silence. This trauma is rarely understood by officials.

The system failed in the Archipelago Province
Talking about NTT, we are talking about the archipelago system.

Provinces containing several islands are not always easy to reach one by one, especially in this kind of rainy season.

Waves of 2.5 meters or more automatically put the shipping fleet to sleep. This means that we need to prepare that not all districts in NTT will be able to deliver swab samples to Kupang.

There are several airlines, but Wings Air and NAM Air are not willing to load swab samples from islands in NTT. So far, swab samples have been carried by ferry or other flights such as Garuda or Trans Nusa.

The Transportation Agency should have been able to talk to the superiors of the other two airlines who refused to resolve this kind of thing, but the initiative was also not heard.

The impact felt by families on various islands in NTT – apart from Timor – was that the death from COVID-19 was unknown, and some after dying and being buried had news that a loved one was ‘positive for COVID-19’.

It could mean bad news that more and more are being exposed, and the good news that their loved ones are buried in complete death rites. This kind of uncertainty might have been avoided if the system worked smoothly. Unfortunately the system doesn’t work!

From the beginning of March to July 2020, residents in NTT were so disciplined, the officers had more lives – compared to now. After the ‘new normal’ was implemented, people hallucinated that NTT had not been touched by COVID-19.

The wave of the spread of COVID-19 has been creeping up since September 2020. The religious leaders were confused, the government seemed dead. Even a handful of officials believe they are immune. There is no scientific basis in statement or decision making.

These days the harvest of positive deaths from COVID-19 is beginning to fall. A number of ERs were forced to close. Doctors and nurses are busy isolating independently. The silent deaths multiplied.

Poor people give up. The rich are still trying to be tested independently, the poor are confused. Dead effort. Bansos 600 thousand, swab price 900 thousand per head.

Officials are still busy in the sickening rite of the budget game. Like the word COVID-19 in your eye, you can’t see it, some development projects seem real. There is no priority.

In fact, if the community’s initiative is supported by the price of the swab, it can be made much cheaper than even the rapid antigen. Currently there are labs, but dacron and VTM to retrieve and store are rare! To make matters worse, in certain districts, there were only a few skilled officers taking swabs.

Since May 2020 we have said that we need at least 5 laboratories spread across Kupang, border cities, and on other large islands in NTT. However, this proposal was met with indifference. In Flores, on an island where he says “all smart people and a village of great politicians”, there is also not one laboratory seed. Even though with 6 billion, one laboratory can already stand.

In Sumba, which he said was very strong, even more ridiculous, laboratory grants were simply rejected in Waingapu. In Kupang, people walk without reason and priority.

Not only that, in Kupang, which is said to be the provincial capital, is even more absurd. Community initiative laboratories are even half-heartedly supported. If these officials are serious, the promise of 1000 tests per day can be broken.

However, the NTT Governor’s Decree for a mass test was only treated carelessly. Biomolecular doctoral salaries have not been paid since July 2020. When paid since October 2020 the amount is 1 million rupiah per month.

He also donated it to buy water gallons, tissue, soap, paper, buckets, and other daily operational needs of the laboratory. People who have trained two dozen laboratory assistants intensively 14 hours a day since June 2020 are paid whatever they like by the head of the service (already three heads of offices: two heads of district, 1 PLT).

In the NTT Provincial Health Office, it is easier to take care of boxed rice for laboratory assistants, compared to talking about laboratory logistics. PPK officers (Commitment Making Officers) have more power than the NTT Governor.

What the NTT Governor promised was easily “kicked offside” by the employees below. In fact, a number of innovative research in the laboratory will not only be useful for NTT, but Indonesia. The promised vaccine, without being supported by mapping of local variants of the virus in Indonesia, is also useless.

A sleeping task force

So, the most absurd thing in NTT is that when we talk about the life of citizens, the officials do not necessarily feel that this is a life calling.

They are busy with routine business. They forget that a pandemic cannot be dealt with with a sluggish bureaucratic model and is just waiting for instructions from the center.

Maybe when all the officials are positive for COVID-19, they realize that moving doesn’t need instructions, but this is for the sake of mutual safety. If it arrives, regret is useless. We’re on our way.

If everyone complains why in the COVID-19 pandemic situation in NTT it seems as if there is no authority that moves to sew the coordination chain for emergency situations, the COVID-19 Task Force in NTT should ‘move’ in the ‘task force’ model. It’s not just a capital of saliva, because every word has to be sure that there is a weight to the action.

But the COVID-19 Task Force in NTT chose to sleep soundly. There are so many problems in the field, but people choose to be ignorant. Even when residents asked for a dialogue they chose to enter the bedroom.

The NTT Provincial Secretary should be able to do more and not move without a clear “war strategy”. Position is useless when it is not at stake for the lives of many people Mr. Ben! This sentence is also for your two bosses.

When death after death from the pandemic continues to flow in, and the health system if allowed to collapse, and the government bureaucracy closes its eyes at will, there is no other word: we must work hard to revive an independent public health system. If the government memble, citizens must move.


Member of the NTT Academia Forum, and Deputy Chair of the NTT Province Community Health Biomolecular Laboratory Pool Test Team

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