Covid-19: Indonesia faces oxygen crisis, reaches out to countries for help
Indonesia, the world’s fourth most-populated country, is currently grappling with a severe shortage of oxygen supplies to treat critical patients infected with coronavirus disease (Covid-19). This is a drastic turn of situation as only two months ago, in May, Indonesia was providing oxygen supplies to India, when the latter was severely hit by the second wave of the pandemic. Indonesia had supplied around 3,400 oxygen cylinders and concentrators to India.
The Indonesian government has reached out to several countries including China, Singapore, Australia to address its oxygen shortage. Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the minister in charge of the country’s Covid-19 pandemic response, told the Associated Press on Friday that the government has received a shipment of over 1,000 oxygen cylinders, concentrators, ventilators and other health devices arrived from Singapore along with 1,000 ventilators provided by Australia.
Pandjaitan said on Friday the government is also planning to purchase 36,000 tonnes of oxygen and 10,000 concentrators from Singapore, adding he is in contact with China and other countries.
Indonesia has so far recorded 2,455,912 cases and 64,631 deaths due to the viral disease. However, reports suggest that cases and deaths are being underreported and the actual count is much higher than the official figures. On Friday, the country reported 38,124 cases and 871 more deaths in the last 24 hours. This is the first time in six days that the country did not see a record rise in its daily tally.
However, the country is currently facing a more severe wave of the pandemic due to which hospitals are overwhelmed with a growing number of critically infected Covid-19 patients. Many of these patients are dying in isolation at home or while waiting to receive emergency care, AP further reported.
In Java, hospitals had started setting up makeshift Intensive Care Units (ICUs) during mid-June. Earlier this week, emergency rooms at a public hospital in Bandung city were closed after running out of oxygen supplies, Yaya Mulyana, the city’s deputy mayor, told AP.
As per government data, Indonesia’s daily oxygen requirement has climbed to 1,928 tons and the total available production capacity is 2,262 tons per day.
“I asked for 100% of oxygen to go to medical purposes first, meaning that all industrial allocations must be transferred to medical,” minister Pandjaitan said on Friday, adding it is a race against time and “we have to work fast”. In response, the country’s industrial ministry issued an official order stating all oxygen supplies be sent to hospitals swamped with Covid-19 patients and urged people in the industrial sector to cooperate. ‘
On the vaccination front, a total of 1.47 million health workers in the country will be administered with a third booster jab using the Moderna vaccine, the government said on Friday. This decision comes after several health workers, who had been fully inoculated with China’s Sinovac jab, died due to the viral disease.
(With inputs from AP)