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Indonesian ferry turns floating isolation center for Covid-19 patients

A vehicle with a flashing siren and "Makassar Covid-19 Hunter" written on the side pulls up to a ship docked at a jetty in the Indonesian port city of Makassar, and masked Covid-19 patients carrying bags board the vessel.

This ship, called the Umsini, used to ply a route ferrying up to 2,000 passengers between Indonesia's island cities. Now, it has been turned into an isolation center for Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms, amid the spread of the highly infectious Delta variant.

More than 800 beds have been installed and sixty medical workers take turns in shifts to help patients recover.

The patients have to spend 10 days in isolation, during which time they undergo routine medical check-ups and can partake in exercise to music, and fishing from the ship's deck.

"I chose to isolate here because I think this is unique and it's a new thing in Makassar," said patient Mitha Andriyanti.

"Also the location is far from the city, so we won't spread the coronavirus to others."

Indonesia, which has one of Asia's worst Covid-19 epidemics, implemented restricted mobility on its Java and Bali islands early last month to stem the spread of the Delta variant and has since extended this to other areas with high infection rates.

This has impacted the more than 8.8 million people who live in South Sulawesi province, where Makassar is located. Makassar has seen a surge in Covid-19 cases since early last month that it has scrambled to contain with limited supplies and facilities.