Indonesia to widen coronavirus curbs to 15 locations

Indonesia will impose emergency restrictions on islands beyond Java and Bali, the epicenter of its current coronavirus wave, a minister said Friday, July 9, to try to slow the deadly spread of the Delta variant across the world's largest archipelago.

The measures will be applied to 15 locations, including 13 cities, in Kalimantan and the islands of Sumatra, Papua and Lombok and come a week tight containment measures were imposed on Bali and on densely populated Java.

"The government is pushing several regions to impose emergency restrictions," chief economic minister, Airlangga Hartarto told a news conference.

They will take effect on Monday, July 12, and include mall closures, a halt on restaurant dining and employees in all but non-essential sectors must work from home.

Indonesia has recorded 2.4 million coronavirus cases and 64,000 deaths overall, among the highest tolls in Asia, but those have accelerated at an alarming rate, with daily fatalities as much as doubling in the first week of July.

It recorded 38,124 new cases and 871 deaths on Friday.

The vaccination rate is low at 5.4% of Indonesia's 270 million population.

A batch of Moderna vaccines are expected to arrive next week, health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Friday, to be used as mRNA booster shots for healthcare workers, a similar move taken by Thailand.

According to independent data group Lapor COVID-19, 131 healthcare workers, mostly recipients of the Sinovac vaccine, have died since June, including 50 in July.

Health services are overwhelmed and requests to help people find a hospital bed or oxygen tank have been shared on social media, while reports of those who died trying are rising.

More than 360 people have died in self isolation since June Lapor COVID-19 data showed.

Some cities have reported oxygen shortages and one social organization in Yogyakarta said there was a scarcity of coffins and body bags there.

Singapore on Friday promised to send 256 oxygen tanks, 200 ventilators and protective gear, the foreign ministry said. – Rappler.com