Indonesia’s COVID-19 situation nears ‘catastrophe’ – Red Cross

JAKARTA, June 29 (Reuters) – Indonesia’s COVID-19 surge is on the brink of “disaster” as the more infectious Delta variant dominates transmission and suffocates hospitals in Southeast Asia’s worst epidemic, the Red Cross said Tuesday.

Indonesia has reported a record number of daily COVID-19 infections of more than 20,000 in the past few days, a new wave of infections fueled by the emergence of highly transmissible virus variants and increased mobility after the Muslim month of fasting.

“Every day we see this Delta variant bringing Indonesia closer to the brink of a COVID-19 catastrophe,” said Jan Gelfand, head of the Indonesian delegation to the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), calling for a better vaccine access worldwide.

Hospitals in several designated areas of the “red zone” have reported overcapacity, including the capital Jakarta, whose isolation beds were 93% occupied on Sunday.

“Hospitals are full because of the surge in cases caused by mobility and the relaxation of health protocol compliance, which is also exacerbated by the Delta variant,” senior health minister Siti Nadia Tarmizi said when asked according to the IFRC assessment.

The Delta variant was first identified in India and has been blamed for major infection peaks in many countries.

Indonesia is relying on mass vaccination to fight the virus, but only 13.3 million of the 181.5 million target vaccines have received the required two doses since January.

Indonesia’s health minister is pushing for stricter controls as infections soar to unprecedented levels, sources familiar with government talks told Reuters. Continue reading

Citing unnamed sources, The Straits Times reported Tuesday that the government would tighten restrictions, ban eating in restaurants and require negative polymerase chain reaction tests for domestic air travel from Wednesday.

When asked for confirmation, Nadia from the Ministry of Health said, “Wait for the official announcement.”

Reporting by Stanley Widianto; Editing by Martin Petty

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