Coronavirus is surging again in Indonesia, and experts fear the worst is yet to come

19-Jun-2021 Intellasia | ABC | 5:02 AM Print This Post

It was 10-year old Aisyah who found her mother’s body after she died from COVID-19.

As a single mother, Rina Darmakusamah had chosen to isolate at home after testing positive because she had no-one else to care for her daughter.

Not long afterwards Rina went to bed, but her condition rapidly declined as a fever gripped her.

“I saw Mum talking to a pillow,” Aisyah said.

“I was wondering why she would do that. She was also sweating a lot.

“And then she was still, not moving at all. I thought she was asleep.

“It was about an hour, and I was thinking Mum never slept that long, so I shook her to wake her up. But she didn’t.”

Rina never made it out of bed.

Her mother’s death has left Aisyah an orphan. The day after Rina died, the child tested positive for COVID-19 herself and also went into isolation.

But the shock and grief of losing her only parent has taken a far greater toll.

“It’s so hard without her,” she said.

“The last thing Mum said to me was to be a good kid and not to be naughty.”

With her father already long dead, Aisyah has been placed in the indefinite care of a social worker at the local government office at Tangerang, west of Jakarta.

Aisyah’s own tragedy underlines the impact of the pandemic on young children in Indonesia when so many adults die, particularly single parents.

She used to help her mother sell clothes online to make a living. Now Aisyah doesn’t know where she will live in the longer term or whether she will finish her education.

With Indonesia in the grip of a severe new wave of infections driven this time by dangerous variants, experts fear more children could be left alone and uncertain about the future.

Delta variant pours fuel on Indonesia’s fire

Indonesia’s new spike in cases occurred in the wake of the recent national holiday after Ramadan, when millions of people travelled to their hometowns in defiance of a government ban.

On Thursday, Indonesia recorded 12,624 new infections, doubling in just over a week and the highest number since January 30.

The country is approaching 2 million cases of COVID-19 since the pandemic began and about 54,000 deaths.

But two recent studies which tested for antibodies rather than confirmed active infections show the true scale of Indonesia’s outbreak may be many times larger.

Authorities fear the worst is yet to come, with the highly contagious Delta variant, first detected in India, becoming the dominant strain in densely populated areas, including Jakarta and parts of Central and East Java.

The intensive care ward at Jakarta’s Persahabatan hospital is now full, according to lung specialist Erlina Burhan, and the emergency ward is too overloaded to take new patients.

She said some doctors had been begging for beds to be made available for their own sick relatives. Supplies of oxygen tubes are dangerously low.

At another Jakarta hospital, there are queues of sick people at the door hoping for treatment, while dozens more wait in corridors inside.

The situation at Kudus in Central Java is even worse.

The rapid spread of the Delta variant has helped fuel local infection rates, and hospitals there are more than 90 per cent full.

“This is our own fault,” Indonesia’s Chief Security minister Luhut Pandjaitan said this week.

“The government has gone all out telling people not to go to their hometowns and to stay at home, and yet we are all still crowded together and this is the result.”

Jakarta’s Governor, Anies Baswedan, has warned of tougher restrictions if the situation worsens, but stopped short of calling for a full lockdown.

But any lockdown will achieve little unless it’s imposed across the whole island of Java, according to Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist at Australia’s Griffith University.

“It’s useless if only Jakarta does the lockdown while other areas don’t synergise efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” he said.

Race to vaccinate before catastrophe strikes

As infections spiral across Indonesia, health authorities are accelerating the rollout of vaccines to curb the virus’ spread.

President Joko Widodo has said he wants to see 1 million shots administered a day by July. Anyone over 18 in Jakarta is now eligible for a jab.

But a squeeze on imports of vaccines has put Indonesia well behind its goal of inoculating two-thirds of the population 181.5 million people to reach herd immunity by early next year.

Fears about the efficacy of China’s Sinovac vaccine and risks associated with the AstraZeneca vaccine have deterred many Indonesians from getting the jab.

Many Muslims, who make up about 87 per cent of Indonesia’s population, are also concerned the vaccines may not be allowed under Islam.

Authorities in one district south of Jakarta have found a novel approach to encourage reluctant residents to get the vaccine, particularly the elderly who are often fearful of the effects.

They have gone doo to door offering the vaccine in one hand and a reward of a live chicken in the other if they agree to a shot.

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2021-06-18/indonesia-coronavirus-disaster-looms-as-delta-variant-takes-hold/100220792

 

Category: Indonesia

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