Indonesia hits 2 million coronavirus cases, tightens curbs

People wearing protective face masks walk on a bridge, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, in Jakarta, Indonesia, June 17, 2021. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

JAKARTA, June 21 (Reuters) - Indonesia passed the 2 million mark in coronavirus cases after a record in new infections on Monday, as authorities announced a tightening of restrictions to contain the spread in the world's fourth most populous country.

Indonesia has been grappling with a spike in coronavirus cases this month and reported 14,536 new infections on Monday, taking its total to 2,004,445, among the highest case numbers in Asia.

It also recorded 294 new deaths, taking total fatalities to 54,956.

The tighter regulations will apply for two weeks in 29 "red zones" nationwide where infection rates are high, with religious activities at houses of worship suspended and restaurants, cafes and malls required to operate at 25% capacity, Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto said.

Those areas include Kudus in Java, Bangkalan on Madura island and parts of Riau, in Sumatra, and the capital Jakarta, where police announced a curfew in 10 locations between 9 p.m. and 4 a.m.

Vital sectors such as basic services can operate at normal capacity with stricter health protocols, while offices outside of red zone areas must operate at under 50% capacity.

"It was reported to the president that there are 87 regencies and cities where hospital capacity is above 70%," Airlangga told a news conference, explaining the reason for the curbs.

The World Health Organization last week urged Indonesia to tighten restrictions amid increased transmission and a surge in hospital occupancy rates.

In the district of Kudus, where hundreds of healthcare workers have been infected, bed occupancy rates exceeded 90% last week.

Public health experts say widespread travel during the Muslim Eid al-Fitr holiday period and the circulation of the more transmissible delta variant are likely driving the surge.

Reporting by Agustinus Beo Da Costa; Writing by Gayatri Suroyo Editing by Ed Davies

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.