Indonesia faces oxygen crisis as Covid surges worsen

Hospital patient

Oxygen supply is scarce for days

The Indonesian government has ordered oxygen producers to prioritize their medical needs as the surge in Covid cases has created shortages in many cities.

Hospitals say they are struggling with the limits of their abilities, and some report that 63 patients died because they wrestled with depleted oxygen.

The country is currently recording more than 25,000 new cases daily.

The crisis is due to increased travel and the spread of more contagious Delta variants throughout the country.

Indonesia has the worst outbreak of Covid in Southeast Asia, with about 2.3 million positive cases and more than 60,000 deaths so far.

However, experts warn that the total number is potentially much higher due to the severely inadequate testing outside the capital Jakarta.

The blockade was announced On the country’s main island of Java and last week on a tourist island in Bali.

“Emergency situations like war”

On Monday, two hospitals in Bandung City had to refuse new patients seeking emergency treatment after announcing their lack of oxygen.

Over the weekend, paramedics and intensive care units in public hospitals in Bandung, Surakarta and Pamekasan said they were suffering from an influx of people seeking hospitalization and had to discharge some patients.

Some people have tents outside.

“It’s a war-like emergency,” a woman seeking treatment for her older mother told the BBC’s Indonesian service. Her mother was first rejected in a hospital that lacked beds and could only be admitted to another temporary tent.

Patients being treated outside a Semarang hospital

Some hospitals treat patients in temporary tents

Health ministry official Siti Nadia Tarmizi said he called on the gas industry to boost production of medical oxygen and urged people not to store it.

“I hope people don’t stock up on oxygen,” she said, adding that this only exacerbates the shortage of others.

Her comment comes when people are trying to personally secure an oxygen cylinder to treat a patient at home.

New cylinders and refills are hard to come by and are in high demand, doubling the price.

“The end of the catastrophe”

In Jakarta, the government said Sunday that the number of funerals per day according to the Covid protocol surged tenfold from early May.

There are also many infectious diseases and deaths, even though most of the national medical workers are vaccinated.

The country relies primarily on China’s Sinovac jab, and experts are currently considering a third dose to increase its effectiveness against the new Delta variant.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies said last week that the country was “staggering at the edge of the Covid-19 catastrophe.”

Meanwhile, starting Tuesday, Indonesia will change immigration rules for foreign visitors, allowing only fully vaccinated people who are negative for the Covid test, officials said.

Incoming visitors must spend eight days in quarantine upon arrival.

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