The island nation — home to about 270 million people — is now reporting more cases a day than hard-hit India, making Indonesia the new epicenter for the pandemic in Asia. If the spread continues unabated, experts say it could push Indonesia’s health care system to the brink of disaster.
“Every day we are seeing this Delta variant driving Indonesia closer to the edge of a Covid-19 catastrophe,” Jan Gelfand, head of the Indonesian delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC), told CNN in late June as case numbers first began to increase. Since then the situation has only worsened.
President Joko Widodo said Wednesday vaccines are Indonesia’s “hope to recover from this global health crisis.”
“Fair and equal access to vaccines must be guaranteed since we see there is still a wide gap in vaccine access throughout the country,” he said, according to Antara.
On Tuesday, nearly 3.5 million doses of AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Indonesia as part of the global vaccine sharing program COVAX. Indonesia has received more than 14 million vaccines through the program, according to state media.
Asia’s Covid outbreaks
Indonesia is one of several countries in the region combating Covid-19 outbreaks and struggling to vaccinate its population. India is still reporting tens of thousands of new cases a day. Myanmar’s ruling junta reported 7,083 new cases and 145 Covid-19 related deaths on Wednesday, but social welfare groups fear the actual situation has become far worse since the military coup in February.
In Myanmar, many of those suffering symptoms choose to remain at home because they don’t trust the military-run hospitals. Others say people have been turned away from facilities running low on intensive care beds and unable to take in more patients.
In Northeast Asia, Japan and South Korea are also struggling to contain cases, largely because they are lagging behind Western nations in their vaccine drives. Several regions in South Korea have enacted new social distancing measures with daily case numbers hitting fresh records.
CNN’s Amy Sood, Helen Regan and Kocha Olarn contributed to this report.