Indonesia faces oxygen crisis amid worsening Covid surge

 Indonesia faces oxygen crisis amid worsening Covid surge

Indonesia’s government has ordered producers to prioritise medical oxygen amid a Covid surge and a shortage of oxygen in a number of cities.

Hospitals say they have almost exhausted supplies, with one reporting that 63 patients died as a result of oxygen shortages.

Indonesia is recording more than 25,000 new cases every day.

Increased travel and the highly contagious Delta variant have exacerbated the crisis.

Indonesia has had the worst Covid outbreak in South East Asia, with about 2.3 million positive cases and more than 60,000 deaths so far.

However, experts warn that the overall numbers are potentially much higher because of severely inadequate testing outside the capital Jakarta.

A lockdown has been put on the country’s main island Java, as well as in the tourist island of Bali last week.

On Monday, two hospitals in the city of Bandung announced that they had run out of oxygen, and had to reject new patients seeking emergency treatment.

Over the weekend, emergency services and intensive care units of public hospitals in the cities of Bandung, Surakarta, and Pamekasan said they were struggling with an influx of people seeking admission with some having to turn away patients.

Others have set up tents outside.

“It’s a war-like emergency,” a woman seeking treatment for her elderly mother told the BBC’s Indonesian service. Her mother had first been rejected at a hospital that had run out of beds, and was only able to get admitted to a makeshift tent at another one.

In the Regional General Hospital (RSUD) in Bandung, the emergency room was closed for Covid patients as of 2 July, with the lack of oxygen being one of the reasons.

“Four days ago, there was shortage of oxygen supply from distributors and vendors,” hospital head Mulyadi told the BBC at the weekend. “So four days ago, I tried to make the use of oxygen more efficient.”

He added that producers are struggling to meet the increased demand from hospitals.

“Every day a lot of people come, 10 to 15 Covid-19 patients, there are a lot of queues,” doctor Syaiful Hidayat at the Smart Pamekasan Hospital told the BBC.

The pulmonary specialist says they initially set up an emergency tent for Covid patients but were later forced to turn some patients away.

BBC News