Australia's neighbour 'on the edge of a catastrophe'

·2-min read

Indonesia's Covid-19 surge is on the edge of a "catastrophe" as the more infectious Delta variant dominates transmission and chokes hospitals in Southeast Asia's worst epidemic, the Red Cross said on Tuesday.

Australia's neighbour has reported record daily infections of more than 20,000 in recent days, in a new wave of infections fuelled by the emergence of highly transmissible virus variants and increased mobility after the Muslim fasting month.

"Every day we are seeing this Delta variant driving Indonesia closer to the edge of a Covid-19 catastrophe," Jan Gelfand, head of the Indonesian delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), said, urging better vaccine access globally.

Wearing personal protective equipment funeral officers burry a covid 19 victim at the Rorotan Public Cemetery in Indonesia. Source: AAP
Indonesia's Covid-19 surge is on the edge of a "catastrophe" as the more infectious Delta variant dominates transmission. Source: AAP

Hospitals in several designated "red zone" areas have reported overcapacity, including the capital Jakarta, with its isolation beds 93 per cent occupied as of Sunday.

It comes as pressure grows from health workers for tighter restrictions as infections surge to unprecedented levels.

Indonesia's health minister is leading a push for stricter controls, sources familiar with government discussions have told Reuters.

"Hospitals are full because of the case surge caused by mobility and loosening health protocol adherence, worsened also by the Delta variant," senior health ministry official Siti Nadia Tarmizi said when asked about the IFRC's assessment.

Indonesia is banking on mass vaccinations to get on top of the virus, but only 13.3 million of the 181.5 million targeted for inoculation have received the required two doses.

A number of patients infected with Covid-19 wait in line to enter the treatment room at the Bekasi Regional General Hospital (RSUD), West Java, on Monday. Source: Photo by Ahmad Soleh/Sipa USA
A number of patients infected with Covid-19 wait in line to enter the treatment room in West Java. Source: Photo by Ahmad Soleh/Sipa USA

Japan will provide two million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine in July, Indonesia's foreign minister Retno Marsudi said on Tuesday. 

Indonesia has so far received 104 million doses of coronavirus vaccines in total.

Japan on Tuesday said it will provide 1.05 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine to Thailand also and 1 million doses of the same vaccine to the Philippines.

Citing unnamed sources, The Straits Times newspaper on Tuesday reported the Indonesian government would this week tighten restrictions on restaurant dining and domestic air travel.

Asked for confirmation, Nadia of the health ministry said: "Wait for the official announcement."

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