Indonesia: Oxygen crisis worsens COVID-19 surge, dozens die amid scarcity

WION Web Team
NEW DELHI Published: Jul 05, 2021, 01:58 PM(IST)

File photo Photograph:( Reuters )

Story highlights

The world's fourth most populous nation is battling one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks, with Saturday's 27,913 infections becoming the newest of many peaks during the last two weeks.

Following more than 60 deaths in a hospital where supply of the life-saving oxygen gas was nearly limited, Indonesia has ordered oxygen manufacturers to prioritise medical demands, the government announced on Sunday. 

In Indonesia, the daily influx of new cases has prompted hospitals to set up makeshift intensive care units and designate new quarantine centres.

In Jakarta, at least three additional cemeteries have been established for people who contracted COVID-19.

Residents in need of oxygen line up as early as 6 am in one Jakarta area to fill tanks for their loved ones. 

The world's fourth most populous nation is battling one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreaks, with Saturday's 27,913 infections becoming the newest of many peaks during the last two weeks.

In a statement, the Sardjito hospital on the island of Java said 63 patients died after it nearly ran out of oxygen over the period from Saturday until early on Sunday, when fresh supplies arrived.

A hospital spokesman could not confirm if all the dead had suffered from COVID-19, however.

In response, the government was asking the gas industry to increase production of medical oxygen, said health ministry official Siti Nadia Tarmizi.

"We also hope people don't stock up on oxygen," she added, referring to stockpiles that could have the effect of denying the gas to many.

The hospital said that for days before the incident, it had sought more supplies of oxygen, but virus patients streaming in since Friday had pushed it beyond its capacity, consuming supply sooner than expected.

The crisis began to lessen on Sunday as additional supplies began to arrive. Separately, the ministry in charge of Indonesia's COVID-19 response has directed the gas industry to prioritise production in order to meet an estimated daily demand of 800 tonnes of oxygen for medical purposes.

According to the ministry, the industry has an idle capacity of 225,000 tonnes per year that can still be utilised. 

(With inputs from agencies)

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