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Indonesia reports record daily increase in COVID-19 infections, orders oxygen supplies

Indonesia reports record daily increase in COVID-19 infections, orders oxygen supplies

FILE PHOTO: People wearing protective face masks stand with their oxygen cylinders outside a factory to get them refilled amid a surge of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 12, 2021. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

JAKARTA: Indonesia reported on Tuesday (Jul 13) a record increase of coronavirus infections, as authorities unveiled plans to order liquid oxygen and tens of thousands of concentrators from abroad to treat patients suffering from the coronavirus.

The Southeast Asian nation is fighting a devastating new virus outbreak fueled by the highly contagious delta variant that has stretched parts of the health system to breaking point.

The COVID-19 task force announced 47,899 new cases, the sixth daily record in the past 10 days and up about sevenfold from a month ago, with total infections now topping 2.6 million.

It also reported 864 new deaths on Tuesday, taking total fatalities to over 68,000.

READ: Indonesia expects COVID-19 situation to improve next week with emergency curbs, more hospital beds: Minister

READ: What might have caused the huge spike in Indonesia's COVID-19 cases post-Idul Fitri holiday

With hospitals overflowing in parts of densely populated Java island, demand for medical oxygen had outstripped production capacity of just over 1,700 tonnes a day, said health minister Budi Gunadai Sadikin.

"What happened was a significant increase. What used to be 400 tonnes, now it's 2,000 tonnes," Budi told a parliamentary hearing.

He said nine provinces had reported hospital bed occupancy above 80 per cent, including Jakarta and West Java. The government was in talks with industry about letting authorities have their excess capacity, as well as looking at imports, Budi said.

With many Indonesians unable to get hospital beds, independent data group Lapor COVID-19 says 453 people have died from the coronavirus in self-isolation since June.

Senior minister Luhut Pandjaitan said President Joko Widodo had ordered ministers to take action over the oxygen situation.

Luhut told CNBC Indonesia the country was importing 40,000 tonnes of liquid oxygen and more than 40,000 concentrators from the United States, China and Japan to allow people with milder cases to treat themselves at home. 

"When they are healed, they can be returned and shared with others," said Luhut.

The minister had said at a press conference on Monday that he expects the COVID-19 curve to flatten and the situation to improve by next week.

Starting Wednesday, the government will also distribute 300,000 packets of medicines and supplements for asymptomatic patients and those with mild symptoms who do not require hospitalisation.

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Source: Reuters/nh

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