Indonesian companies switch production to make equipment for coronavirus response

Special Indonesian companies switch production to make equipment for coronavirus response
An Indonesian doctor broadcasts advice on preventing the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) from the back of a motor-tricycle, in Depok, near Jakarta, Indonesia. (Reuters)
Short Url
Updated 28 March 2020

Indonesian companies switch production to make equipment for coronavirus response

Indonesian companies switch production to make equipment for coronavirus response
  • Nation to boost making medical equipment following G20 decision to increase supply
  • COVID-19 infections expected to grow as Indonesians return to hometowns ahead of Ramadan

JAKARTA: Indonesian companies are switching production to manufacture medical equipment and protective wear for those on the frontline of the country’s fight against the coronavirus.

Finance Minister Sri Mulyani said that the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank would prioritize support for the producers of medical tools, as the Group of 20 states have agreed to increase their supply amid the virus pandemic.

“It is important to have the capacity to secure the supply of medical tools. In Indonesia, we are going to take steps to support medical tool manufacturers. We will make a list and see what they need to boost their production capacity,” Mulyani said in a joint teleconference press briefing with Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi on Thursday evening, after both of them accompanied President Joko Widodo at the extraordinary virtual leaders’ summit held by Saudi Arabia.

Marsudi said that the pandemic was a reminder of the interconnectedness of the world and its vulnerability, as “the virus knows no boundaries.”

“The president emphasized in his address the importance of cooperation, solidarity, and synergy. The president also took the opportunity to send a strong message that Indonesia and the G20 should be able to win two wars, against COVID-19 and the current global economic downturn, at the same time,” she said.

The number of known COVID-19 cases in Indonesia has spiked from two on March 2 to 1,046 on Friday, with 87 fatalities. The tally is expected to grow as people return to their hometowns ahead of Ramadan and Eid Al-Fitr as offices and businesses have been shut down to comply with social-distancing measures.

According to official data, the virus has spread to 28 of Indonesia’s 34 provinces, including those in the eastern part of the country, which suffer from a shortage of health care facilities and trained professionals.

As health workers across the country face a severe shortage of medical and personal protective equipment, some businesses have retooled their operations to help, and to also avoid layoffs of their employees amid the economic slowdown.

Erri Wijayanto, a businessman from Yogyakarta, has joined forces with about 100 fellow garment manufacturers in the city to switch production from fashion clothing to personal protective wear, which will be donated to hospitals.

“We just started the initiative this week. We have collected contributions from 250 donators, which is enough to produce 2,000 pieces of personal protective gear. Each costs Rp100,000 — just enough to buy the material and to cover production costs, so we can still pay our workers. We are not making any profit from the production,” Wijayanto told Arab News.

“We want to keep the business going and keep the workers occupied. It is also our measure to prevent the spread of the virus as this work keeps them from returning to their villages, where they could infect their families or get infected on the way,” he said.

Fashion designer Anne Avantie also stopped her high-end fashion production two weeks ago to launch personal protective wear production for hospitals in Semarang, Central Java, where she is based.

Avantie told Arab News that all protective wear items are hand-made and sewn manually in her workshop, which employs hundreds of workers.

To prevent the reselling of the protective gear by third parties, Avantie said that she is not accepting orders and those who want to donate to the cause can do so through her charity foundation.

“If they want to donate, they can donate to our foundation and we will produce the gear. We will make sure that the protective wear will be donated in accordance with formal requests from hospitals. We do not take individual requests,” she said.

“I feel like this is my calling to take part in this fight and to help those in need. This creates a positive energy that can be an immunity booster for everyone.”