Indonesia is on the verge of a coronavirus “catastrophe,” the Red Cross has warned, as the country endures a rapid spread of the highly contagious Delta variant of Covid-19 that has already overwhelmed its hospitals.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) sounded the alarm over the situation on Tuesday, warning that the South Asian nation is heading into a crisis.
“Every day we are seeing this Delta variant driving Indonesia closer to the edge of a Covid-19 catastrophe,” Jan Gelfand, the head of the Indonesian IFRC delegation, said in a statement.
Indonesia has recently been reporting around 20,000 new cases of coronavirus daily. The figure might not seem especially concerning for a nation of 270 million, yet the situation on the ground is likely significantly worse. Some 20% of Covid-19 tests return positive results every day, suggesting a large number of infections go undetected due to insufficient testing, the IFRC said.
Many of the new cases have been attributed to the Delta variant, first detected in India last October. The strain is extremely contagious and has already sparked major outbreaks in countries across the globe.
Multiple hospitals in the capital, Jakarta, and elsewhere are already reporting that they’re over capacity, having effectively run out of beds to accommodate patients. The IFRC-run facilities have been forced to set up additional temporary wards to accommodate the influx.
“The Indonesian Red Cross Covid-19 hospital in Bogor, West Java, is overflowing. We have set up emergency tents at the hospital to accommodate more patients, with many traveling for hours so they can access vital medical care,” Sudirman Said, the secretary general of local Red Cross chapter, stated.
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The country’s vaccination drive is proceeding at a very modest pace, meanwhile, with less than 5% of Indonesia’s adult population having so far been fully vaccinated. To remedy the situation, wealthier nations must speed up the vaccine-sharing process, providing struggling nations with their surplus, Gelfand stressed.
“We need lightning-fast action globally so that countries like Indonesia have access to the vaccines needed to avert tens of thousands of deaths. We must focus on getting vaccinations into the arms of those most at risk and all adults everywhere to contain this virus,” he said.
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