JAKARTA: Indonesia’s coronavirus cases passed the million mark on Tuesday, almost 11 months after the outbreak was confirmed in the country, with hospitals in the worst-infected regions facing a dire shortage of beds to treat patients.
The national COVID-19 task force reported 13,094 new confirmed cases, raising the caseload to 1,012,350 as the number of deaths climbed to 28,468 out of a population of 270 million. The capital Jakarta remains the center of the outbreak, with more than 250,000 cases.
“We are grieving for many of our fellow citizens, and for more than 600 health workers who have lost their lives in the fight against this pandemic,” Indonesia’s Health Minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin, said in a live broadcast.
He urged the public to follow health protocols and work together with the government to eradicate the pandemic and “flatten the curve.”
But experts said the figure is hardly surprising as the world’s fourth-most-populous country struggles to contain the pandemic.
Prof. Zubairi Djoerban, head of the Indonesian Medical Association’s COVID-19 task force, told Arab News that “it was expected given the surge of confirmed cases.”
“But we still rank 19th in the world, and there are 18 countries above us with more cases, even though they have much less population,” Djoerban said.
Indonesia is ranked 19th in the world on numbers of confirmed cases, according to figures released by Worldometer.
However, Djoerban said: “Hospitals in Jakarta and the surrounding regions are full, and it is difficult to find available beds to treat patients.”
He called for stricter compliance with health protocols, a vaccination drive and improvements in hospital equipment, saying that curbs on public activities alone will not be enough to control the pandemic.
Wiku Adisasmito, a spokesman for the national COVID-19 task force, said the spike in cases was evident following the Christmas and New Year holiday, despite a two-week circuit breaker imposed before Christmas in the worst-hit islands of Java and Bali.
The surge has prompted the government to extend the circuit breaker for two weeks. A ban on travelers entering the country except for ministerial-level officials has also been extended until Feb 8.
Despite the rise in coronavirus cases, President Joko Widodo has claimed that Indonesia has been able to manage the pandemic and the ensuing economic fallout.
“We are grateful that Indonesia is among the countries that have been able to control the two crises well,” he said.