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COVID-19 surge starting to ease in Indonesia capital, data shows

COVID-19 surge starting to ease in Indonesia capital, data shows

People wearing protective face masks queue to receive a dose of China's Sinovac Biotech vaccine for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) during a mass vaccination program at a school building in Jakarta, Indonesia, July 26, 2021. REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan

JAKARTA: As Indonesia grapples with a devastating wave of coronavirus infections, Jakarta government data shows a fall in cases and easing pressure on hospitals in the capital, even as the situation worsens in other parts of the archipelago.

The capital, home to about 10 million people - and three times that figure when counting those who live in surrounding towns - has been the epicentre of an outbreak that has pushed hospitals to the brink, with desperate scenes of people queuing for oxygen and being treated in parking lots.

But over two weeks Jakarta's daily cases dropped from 14,619 on Jul 12 to 2,662 on Jul 25, according to city data, while pressure on COVID-19 referral hospitals has eased.

READ: COVID-19 emergency restrictions in Indonesia extended until Aug 2: President Jokowi

"The situation is very different," Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan said in a video address on Monday (Jul 26). 

"The hallways in front of emergency (hospital) units were always full ... Now they're mostly empty," he said.

The positivity rate, or the percentage of people testing positive for COVID-19, almost halved from 31.2 per cent on Jul 15, to 15.9 per cent on Jul 25, the data showed.

The bed occupancy rate in Jakarta hospitals has also fallen to 73 per cent from 90 per cent earlier this month, although the occupancy rate in intensive care remained high, at 89 per cent, official data showed.

READ: Commentary: Overwhelmed Indonesian hospitals with COVID-19 cases behind high doctor fatalities

Still, Anies stressed the pandemic was not yet over, particularly with the positivity rate several times higher than the guideline set by the World Health Organization.

President Joko Widodo announced on Sunday that some social restrictions would be eased in a move that public health experts said was largely driven by economic concerns.

READ: Indonesia's easing of COVID-19 curbs seen driven by economics

Iwan Ariawan, a biostatistician at the University of Indonesia, told Reuters that Jakarta's cases were falling and "the epidemic curve is beginning to show its decelerating phase".

Adib Khumaidi, head of the mitigation team at the Indonesian medical association, told a news briefing that while Jakarta and some other areas in Java had seen lower cases, other regions, such as Sumatra, Kalimantan and Sulawesi, were seeing spikes.

Demand for oxygen in South Kalimantan doubled from June to July, said Muhamad Muslim, head of its provincial health agency while hospital emergency units filled as cases jumped by over 200 per cent.

In Yogyakarta, also on Java, and in East Kalimantan, on Indonesian Borneo, bed occupancy rates have surpassed 80 per cent, according to health ministry data.

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Source: Reuters/vc

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