Indonesia’s Minister of Well being on Delta Covid surge, hospital capability

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the Indonesian government increased hospital bed capacity in preparation for a surge in Covid infections after the holidays, but parts of the country are still running out of beds as daily cases hit new highs.

He told CNBC Street Signs Asia that Indonesia has up to 130,000 beds for Covid patients and 72,000 people have been in isolation beds as of yesterday.

But he admitted that the Southeast Asian nation faces two problems.

“The first problem is that the acceleration is much faster than it was in January and February,” he said. “So for a very dense area … we’re starting the mobility restrictions next week to ensure that the speed of incoming patients to the hospital is reduced.”

He attributed the increase in new cases to the Delta variant, which was first discovered in India.

Indonesia tightened restrictions on sources of infection last week and announced on Thursday that stricter emergency measures would apply from July 3 to July 20.

In the Jakarta region it already reaches 90% of the bed capacity.

Budi Gunadi Sadikin

Indonesia’s Minister of Health

The second problem is that the infections are concentrated in certain parts of the country, particularly the most populous island of Java.

“In the Jakarta region it already reaches 90% of the bed capacity,” he said on Wednesday.

Jan Gelfand of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said “action at lightning speed” is needed to give countries like Indonesia access to vaccines.

“Every day we see how this Delta variant brings Indonesia closer to the brink of a Covid-19 catastrophe,” said Gelfand, the head of the Indonesian delegation of the IFRC, in a press release.

No nationwide lockdown

The Indonesian health minister is reportedly pushing for stricter Covid measures in Indonesia, but told CNBC that authorities will not consider a nationwide lockdown.

“Definitely not, because … the cluster is only in a certain area,” he said. “Kalimantan doesn’t have that. Sulawesi doesn’t. Most of Sumatra doesn’t and (and) Bali is still under control.”

Indonesia’s tourism minister told Reuters this week that the country, Bali, a popular holiday destination, plans to reopen in late July or early August, but needs to “watch out for the recent surge” in cases.

Health Minister Budi said in Sumatra and Kalimantan only 30 to 40 percent of hospital beds were occupied. “It’s not evenly distributed.”

A Covid-19 patient in the complex of the Wisma Atlet Covid-19 Emergency Hospital.

Risa Krisadhi | SOPA pictures | LightRakete | Getty Images

He also said Indonesia could increase oxygen production if necessary, adding that the country has diverted some of its industrial supplies to hospitals.

Distribution is a problem, however, as the factories are mostly located in West and East Java, while Central Java needs oxygen, he said.

Vaccination progress

Regarding vaccinations, Budi said the country has given 43 million vaccinations to around 28 million people. This corresponds to a little more than 10% of the approximately 276 million inhabitants of Indonesia.

He said the vaccination rate has remained constant at around 1 million doses per day this week.

“Our president asked me to go from 1 million doses a day to 2 million doses a day, which … can be done because we are now asking the entire private sector, all the police and the entire army to help,” said he.

Indonesia has received donations from China, Japan, Australia, the United States and Covax, a global alliance that aims to provide vaccines to poorer countries, Budi said. It also had agreements to buy vaccines from AstraZeneca and Pfizer, he said.

According to the World Health Organization, the new Covid cases reported in Indonesia between June 21 and 27 are up 60% from the previous week. 2,476 deaths were also recorded during this period.

As of June 29, Indonesia has confirmed 2.16 million coronavirus infections and 58,024 deaths, data from Johns Hopkins University showed.

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