Indonesia’s coronavirus spike has health experts worried the worst is yet to come
Case numbers have risen sharply in Java and Sumatra three weeks after holidays that followed the Islamic fasting month, when millions ventured across the archipelago, ignoring a temporary travel ban.
In Kudus, central Java, cases skyrocketed 7,594% since then, according to Wiku Adisasmito of Indonesia’s Covid-19 taskforce. Health care reinforcements have been brought in, but hospital capacity had hit 90%, local media reported.
In Riau on Sumatra, daily cases more than doubled from early April to over 800 by mid-May, while the positivity rate was at 35.8% last week, said Wildan Asfan Hasibuan, an epidemiologist and provincial task force adviser.
The country also has testing and tracing shortfalls, and its immunization drive has progressed slowly, with one in 18 people targeted for inoculations fully vaccinated so far.
Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist from Australia’s Griffith University, said Indonesia should take variants more seriously — particularly the B.1.617.2 strain, first identified in India, which he said was in its early stage of spreading.
“It means sooner or later it will reach the more vulnerable … we will face an explosion of cases which we cannot contain or respond to in our health facilities.”