Indonesia overtakes India to become the new Asian epicentre of pandemic
Indonesia has overtaken India to become the new Asian epicentre of the Covid-19 pandemic as its latest surge of infections rages out of control.
The Southeast Asian nation – the world’s fourth most populous with 270 million people – now has around 132 cases per million compared to India’s 26, reported Nikkei Asia. The daily death count per capita on average is about 3 per million compared with less than one in India.
Indonesia’s alarming figures, fuelled by the delta variant, are already believed to be vastly underestimated due to poor rates of testing and contact tracing.
Each day, official figures show new record highs. On Tuesday, 47,899 new infections were reported, up from 40,427 the previous day. India’s cases dropped to 32,906 from 37,154, although cumulatively its tallies are still the highest in Asia.
Indonesia is now experiencing similar bed and oxygen shortages seen in India during its crisis earlier this year.
Health Minister Budi Sadikin said on Tuesday that Covid-19 bed occupancy rates in the nation’s capital, Jakarta, was close to 90 per cent.
He warned the government is preparing for a scenario where cases could increase 30 per cent over the next two weeks and accelerate in other regions.
Java hospitals have been deluged in recent weeks, with many people struggling to get treatment. Most of the 550 people who have died in isolation since June were on Java, according to independent data initiative group Lapor Covid-19.
The Philippines announced on Wednesday it would ban travellers coming from Indonesia to prevent the risk of spreading the Delta variant.
As health experts warn Indonesia could be the next India, the government has scrambled to boost capacity and secure sufficient oxygen supply.
Senior minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, who spearheads the emergency response, on Wednesday said oxygen supplies were well managed, with more than 1,500 oxygen generators expected to arrive from Singapore and China.
More than 2,000 newly graduated doctors and 20,000 nurses would soon be deployed to hospitals, he added.