Indonesia’s confirmed COVID-19 cases exceed one million

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (AP) — Indonesia’s confirmed coronavirus infections since the pandemic began crossed one million yesterday and hospitals in some hard-hit areas were near capacity.

Indonesia’s Health Ministry announced that new daily infections rose by 13,094 yesterday to bring the country’s total to 1,012,350, the most in Southeast Asia. The total number of deaths reached 28,468.

The milestone comes just weeks after Indonesian launched a massive campaign to inoculate two-thirds of the country’s 270 million people, with President Joko Widodo receiving the first shot of a Chinese-made vaccine.

Healthcare workers, military, police, teachers and other at-risk populations are being prioritised for the vaccine in the world’s fourth most populous country.

Officials have said that Indonesia will require almost 427 million doses, taking into account the estimate that 15 per cent of doses may be wasted during the distribution process in the vast nation of more than 17,000 islands, where transportation and infrastructure are limited in places.

Jakarta continues to be the hardest hit city in Indonesia, confirming more than 254,000 cases as of yesterday, including 4,077 deaths. Only 8.5 per cent of a total 8,066 hospital beds in the city were left for new patients as of yesterday, while beds with ventilators were filled.

Other provinces across the country’s most densely populated island of Java, such as West Java, East Java and Yogyakarta, have also been seeing high bed occupancy rates, up to 95 per cent, in the past few weeks.

Even in Jakarta’s neighbouring province of Banten, the occupancy rates reached 100 per cent last week. Health Ministry data showed hospital capacity nationwide was at about 70 per cent.

The ministry Director General of Health Services Abdul Kadir called the situation “dire”.

The government has issued a circular urging private hospital owners across the country to allocate up to 40 per cent of beds for COVID-19 patients, Kadir said.

A woman walks past a coronavirus-themed mural honouring health workers in Tangerang, Indonesia. PHOTO: AP