Indonesia: COVID-19 cases quadruple, shortage of oxygen amid outbreak

Indonesia: COVID-19 cases quadruple, shortage of oxygen amid outbreak

Indonesia is dealing with one of Asia’s worst coronavirus outbreaks, with new cases quadrupling in a month, causing a severe oxygen shortage in some regions.

At least 33 people died after an oxygen supply ran out at a hospital in Yogyakarta over the weekend, prompting the government to order oxygen manufacturers to deliver all of their supplies to hospitals and clinics on Monday.

COVID-19 infections have risen dramatically throughout the country due to the extremely infectious Delta variant.

After the government imposed additional virus restrictions last week in the hard-hit capital, Jakarta, throughout Java, and on vacation island Bali, Indonesia recorded 29,745 new infections and 558 fatalities on Monday, both daily records.

In hotspot regions, mosques, parks, retail malls, and restaurants were closed, and non-essential workers were instructed to work from home.

Bambang Harymurti, a Jakarta-based public affairs expert, told Al Jazeera that the situation on the ground is deteriorating.

“If you look around, many hospitals are either closed because they are so full they don’t admit any more patients and they are asking people to donate oxygens. The government is asking people not to buy oxygen because hospitals need them,” he said.

“And in fact, the authorities said the police might have to raid many places by Thursday if this situation where people are lining up to buy oxygens and essential medicine [continues]. Medicine prices are sky high now.”

In less than a month, the world’s fourth most populated country has seen its daily caseload more than double, with 2.3 million cases and 61,140 fatalities.

However, due to inadequate testing and poor tracking procedures, that number is generally considered to be an undercount.

Indonesia’s overburdened healthcare system has been on the verge of collapsing, with overcrowded hospitals turning away patients and desperate families scrambling for oxygen tanks to treat ill and dying relatives at home.

COVID funerals have increased tenfold in Jakarta since May, and patients are increasingly dying alone at home.

According to LaporCOVID, an independent viral data organisation, at least 269 individuals have died while in self-isolation in ten regions. On Friday alone, 45 individuals died at home, according to Jakarta’s health office.

Official national data on COVID deaths at home are unavailable.

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