Indonesian health authorities have announced the country’s largest one-day jump in new coronavirus infections, as the country’s number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began crosses 2 million
The Health Ministry reported 14,536 new infections and 294 deaths, bringing the country’s total confirmed fatalities to more than 54,950. Both the total cases and total deaths are the most in Southeast Asia.
Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has seen infections surge in recent weeks, a climb that has been blamed on travel during last month’s Eid al-Fitr holiday as well as the arrival of new virus variants, such as the the Delta version first found in India.
The surge is putting pressure on hospitals, including in Jakarta, where 80% of hospital beds are full, and has added urgency to the government’s plan to inoculate 1 million people each day by next month. Authorities have so far only fully vaccinated 12.3 million of Indonesia’s 270 million people and partially vaccinated another 10.9 million.
The World Health Organization last week said Indonesia’s drastic increase in hospital bed occupancy rates is a major concern and necessitates stricter public health and social measures, including large-scale social restrictions.
The government has resisted a large-scale lockdown due to fears of the economic impact. Offices, restaurants. shopping malls and places of worship remain open, though at 50% of their capacity.
“The situation is worrying,” said Riris Andono Ahmad, an epidemiologist at Gajah Mada University. “We are facing a second wave of COVID-19 with the most transmissible variant and the public’s low compliance with health protocols.”
He urged stricter measures.
“All of the government’s efforts and policy to curb COVID-19 transmission will be ineffective if it gives room for people to gather and crowd,” he said.
The national COVID-19 task force said a spike in infections has been seen in Jakarta, Banten, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta and East Java provinces. All are on Java, the most populous of Indonesia’s more than 17,000 islands.
President Joko Widodo last week ordered authorities to step up the vaccination rate.
The government has received 104.7 million vaccine doses, including 94.5 million of Sinovac, 8.2 million of AstraZeneca, and 2 million of Sinopharm. It expects to receive about 50 million Pfizer doses in the coming months, followed by 50 million Moderna doses.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin has said deals to import around 104 million AstraZeneca doses have been hit by delays and now only 20 million doses are expected to arrive this year.
Associated Press writers Victoria Milko and Edna Tarigan contributed to this report.