Indonesia reports daily record COVID-19 deaths, hospitals strained

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesia reported 346 deaths from COVID-19 on Thursday, hitting a new record for the second time this week, as hospitals in the Southeast Asian nation come under increasing strain from the coronavirus pandemic.

FILE PHOTO: Medical staff members wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) close an ambulance door amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic in Jakarta, Indonesia, January 13, 2021. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

Data from Indonesia’s COVID-19 taskforce showed that deaths now total 27,203, while confirmed cases reached 951,651, among the highest in Asia.

The record fatalities and sharp rise in daily cases in recent weeks comes amid warnings that the situation could imminently worsen in Indonesia’s hospitals.

“Hospitals could collapse in the coming days if they’re not managed,” said Irma Hidayana, a co-founder of the data initiative group Lapor COVID-19.

Capacity of isolation beds at COVID-19 referral hospitals in Jakarta had reached 87% and intensive care unit beds were 82% occupied, data from the city government showed as of Jan. 17.

The high occupancy has seen some patients die after being turned away from hospitals with no space for them.

Irma said one man was earlier this month rejected from 10 hospitals, including three in Jakarta, before later succumbing to the respiratory disease.

Nearly 40 COVID-19 patients had been turned away from Jakarta hospitals since the end of December, the group’s findings showed.

Dewi Nur Aisyah, a taskforce epidemiologist, told a news conference earlier this week that recorded deaths by mid-January were higher than the average of previous months. Indonesia recorded 3,849 deaths from Jan. 1 to Jan. 17.

Indonesia started its mass vaccination campaign last week and aims to inoculate 181.5 million people, or roughly 67% of the population, to reach herd immunity.

Additional reporting by Fanny Potkin; Editing by Kate Lamb, Martin Petty