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Indonesia is a ‘time bomb’ for coronavirus outbreaks if nothing changes quickly

Here’s how the situation could go from bad to worse if nothing changes.

A woman receives the AstraZeneca vaccine in Jakarta, Indonesia.
A woman receives the AstraZeneca vaccine during a mass coronavirus vaccination for public transport workers at the Kampung Rambutan Bus Terminal in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, June 10, 2021.
Achmad Ibrahim, Associated Press

Indonesia — the world’s fourth most populous country — may face massive COVID-19 outbreaks if health officials do not take immediate action, reports Reuters. Already, the country of 270 million people has one of Asia’s highest COVID-19 caseloads.

Cases have been rising in Indonesia over the last few weeks and beginning to strain local health systems, reported ABC. Jakarta, the country’s capital, has emerged at the epicenter of the outbreak.

How bad is Indonesia’s current coronavirus outbreak?

Thursday, Indonesia reported over 200 coronavirus deaths and almost 9,000 new infections, the highest single-day of COVID-19 cases since late February, said ABC. Last week, the country’s positivity rate was 35.8%.

  • Kudos, an area in central Java, saw cases skyrocket by 7,594% within days, said CNN. Local hospital capacity reached 90%
  • To date, Indonesia has recorded almost 1.9 million COVID-19 cases and over 52,000 fatalities, reports ABC.

However, a recent report estimates that actual COVID-19 figures are several times higher than official counts, said Reuters. The discrepancy is due to weak testing and contact tracing capacities.

  • Officials are increasingly concerned that Indonesia may face similar devastation as India if another wave of COVID-19 outbreaks hits, according to The Telegraph.

Why is Indonesia seeing a spike in coronavirus cases?

The recent surge in cases comes from two driving causes:

  1. Indonesia is a Muslim-majority country, the world’s largest, and three weeks ago, Muslims celebrated the end of their holy fasting month, Ramadan. Many Indonesians ignored the country’s temporary travel ban to visit their families for these holidays, reported CNN.
  2. The new COVID-19 Delta variant is rapidly spreading in other Southeast Asian nations and potentially worsening Indonesia’s outbreaks, reported ABC. This remains uncertain because the country has limited genome sequencing.

The Alpha, Beta and Delta variants have been identified in Indonesia, per The Telegraph.

How is Indonesia responding?

Indonesia has not announced any national restrictions or lockdowns. Rather, officials have announced some localized lockdowns, reported The Telegraph.

  • Indonesian President Joko Widodo has emphasized fighting rising infections through faster vaccination, said The Telegraph.

So far 6% of Indonesians have been fully vaccinated and about 9.4% have received one dose, said Reuters. Wednesday, Jakarta opened vaccinations to all those over the age of 18 to help fight rising infections.