Indonesian Minister of Health on Delta Covid Wave and Hospital Capacity
The Indonesian government has added hospital bed capacity in anticipation of an increase in Covid infections after the holidays, but parts of the country are still short of beds as daily cases reach new highs, according to the Minister of Health. Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin.
He told CNBC’s “Street Signs Asia” that Indonesia has around 130,000 dedicated beds for Covid patients and as of yesterday 72,000 people were in isolation beds.
But he admitted that the Southeast Asian nation faces two issues.
“The first problem is that the acceleration is much faster than what we saw in January, February,” he said. “That’s why for a very dense area… we’re starting mobility restrictions next week, to make sure we reduce the speed of patients entering the hospital.”
He attributed the increase in new cases to the delta variant, which was first detected in India.
Indonesia tightened restrictions in infection hotspots last week and announced Thursday that stricter emergency measures will be in place from July 3 to 20.
The second problem is that infections are concentrated in parts of the country, especially its most populous island, Java.
“In the Jakarta region, it is already reaching 90% of the bed capacity,” he said on Wednesday.
Jan Gelfand of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said “lightning fast action” is needed to give countries like Indonesia access to vaccines.
“Every day we see this Delta variant bringing Indonesia closer to the edge of a Covid-19 disaster”, Gelfand, head of the Indonesian delegation to the IFRC, said in a press release.
The Indonesian Minister of Health is reportedly pushed for tougher Covid measures in Indonesia, but told CNBC authorities would not consider a nationwide lockdown.
“Certainly not, because… the cluster is only in a certain area,” he said. “Kalimantan doesn’t have that. Sulawesi doesn’t have that. Most of Sumatra doesn’t have that, (and) Bali is still under control.”
Indonesia’s tourism minister told Reuters this week that the country wanted to reopen Bali, a popular vacation destination, in late July or early August, but will need to be “aware” of the recent spike in cases.
Health Minister Budi said only 30-40% of hospital beds are used in Sumatra and Kalimantan. “It’s not evenly distributed.”
A Covid-19 patient inside the Wisma Atlet Covid-19 emergency hospital complex.
Risa Krisadhi | SOPA Pictures | LightRocket | Getty Images
He also said Indonesia can increase oxygen production if needed, adding that the country has diverted some of the industrial supply to hospitals.
Distribution is an issue, however, as factories are mainly located in West Java and East Java, while Central Java needs oxygen, he said.
Progress in immunization
Regarding vaccinations, Budi said the country has administered 43 million vaccines to around 28 million people. This represents just over 10% of Indonesia’s population of around 276 million.
He said the vaccination rate was stable at around 1 million doses per day this week.
“Our president asked me to go from 1 million doses per day to 2 million doses per day, which … can be achieved because now we are asking the whole private sector, all the police and the whole army to help us, ”he said.
Indonesia has received donations from China, Japan, Australia, the United States and Covax, a global alliance that seeks to provide vaccines to poorer countries, Budi said. She also has agreements to purchase vaccines from AstraZeneca and Pfizer, he said.
According to the World Health Organization, new cases of Covid in Indonesia reported between June 21 and June 27 are up 60% from the previous week. Some 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, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.