Indonesia readies more medical options for worst-case coronavirus scenario

Indonesia has suffered one of Asia's worst Covid-19 epidemics.
Indonesia has suffered one of Asia's worst Covid-19 epidemics.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

JAKARTA (REUTERS) - Indonesia has prepared backup medical facilities for a worst-case scenario where daily coronavirus infections reach 40,000 to 50,000, an official said on Tuesday (July 6), as the country reported another day of record fatalities from its worst outbreak so far.

Indonesia has suffered one of Asia's worst Covid-19 epidemics, exacerbated by the presence of the highly infectious Delta variant, with hospitals overstretched, oxygen supply issues and a growing number of sick unable to receive medical attention.

South-east Asia's largest and most populous country has seen record daily increases in coronavirus infections in 10 of the past 15 days, with the death toll passing 500 on several days.

Just 1.6 per cent of its more than 270 million population have been fully vaccinated against Covid-19.

Senior Minister Luhut Pandjaitan said the government has plans to increase oxygen supplies and has accommodation infrastructure, including disused buildings, which can be converted into isolation facilities in the worst-case scenario.

"The number can go up to 40,000 or more, that's why we have prepared scenarios when it comes to medications, oxygen and also hospitals," Mr Luhut said, adding that help had been sought from countries like China and Singapore.

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said that the government was adding nearly 8,000 new beds within the Greater Jakarta area, and was closely watching Sumatra and Kalimantan, the Indonesian part of Borneo island, amid a rise in cases of the Delta variant first detected in India.

As of Monday, 76 per cent of beds in Indonesian hospitals were occupied, health ministry data showed, though some regions on Java island have reported a rate higher than 85 per cent.

Indonesia last Saturday imposed tighter curbs on movement, office work, dining and air travel on Java and Bali islands and on Tuesday tightened measures in 20 other provinces.

Authorities have voiced concern about reports of heavy traffic in Jakarta and the city’s governor Anies Baswedan said on Twitter his inspection of office buildings on Tuesday found a number of non-essential businesses still operating.

“We bury more than 300 people per day, those are our brothers and sisters,” he said in an accompanying video. “This is all about protecting them.”