COVID infections have increased in Indonesia, a nation of 270 million people, last week that saw more than 2.05 million cases reported as of Saturday, and hospital occupancy in the capital Jakarta and other hard-hit areas soared to more than 75 percent.
The country is also grappling with new strains of the virus, including the highly contagious Delta variant, which was first identified in India.
In Jakarta, the surge in cases has forced hospitals to put up emergency tents, reports the Detik news website, which quoted provincial government officials as saying.
In Medan, the capital of North Sumatra Province, Dr. Inke Nadia D Lubis, member of the COVID task force in the region, reported that up to 1,800 children have been infected with the virus in the last six months, 14 of whom have died.
Inke von Detik is quoted as saying that more than a third of the reported cases are primary school students and a quarter are high school students.
On Friday, President Joko Widodo said the country was facing an “exceptional situation” and promised to respond with “swift and appropriate policies”.
Nearly 1,000 Indonesian health workers have also died from the virus since the pandemic began, with the country’s medical association confirming 401 doctors among the victims on Friday.
This month, more than 300 vaccinated doctors and health workers in central Java were infected with COVID-19, with about a dozen hospitalized.
The rise in severe cases among vaccinated health professionals has raised questions about the Chinese-made Sinovac vaccine, which Indonesia relies heavily on to vaccinate more than 180 million people by early next year.
“Shortly before the collapse”
Clinical symptoms suggest the strain is responsible for an increase in cases in West Java, said Provincial Medical Association spokeswoman Eka Mulyana.
“In West Java, the bed occupancy is over 90 percent. Some hospitals have rates over 100 percent, ”he told reporters.
“At this rate, our health system is on the verge of collapse.”
Dozens of communities in the Kudu reign in central Java were put on lockdown after the Delta variant was discovered in local test samples, causing a sudden surge in virus cases.
The increase has been attributed in part to the millions who traveled from this region through the Muslim-majority nation at the end of Ramadan last month, despite an official ban on annual migration.
Indonesian Medical Association’s kudu representative Ahmad Ipul Syaifuddin said the mass movement had made it nearly impossible to determine where the surge began.
“We have no idea how to track and find the first spreader from the Delta Falls, as the result of the sampling came out about three weeks after the mass exodus,” he said.
“My sample was one of the tested samples for the Delta variant. I have already recovered and (have) now tested negative, but I still have a cough. “
Meanwhile, the Jakarta Post reported that among those recently infected with the coronavirus is an unnamed Indonesian official who was traveling to Italy for an international conference.
The official has been quarantined for 10 days after testing positive on arrival in the Sicilian port city of Catania, where officials from around the world gathered for a series of G20 ministerial meetings.