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Thousands of foreigners leave Indonesia amid COVID-19 crisis

Thousands of foreigners leave Indonesia amid COVID-19 crisis

Airport records show thousands of foreigners have left Indonesia in recent weeksBy NINIEK KARMINI Associated PressJuly 27, 2021, 11:27 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleJAKARTA, Indonesia — Thousands of foreigners have left Indonesia in recent weeks, airport records released Tuesday showed, apparently spurred by a brutal pandemic wave and a general shortage of vaccines, which have gone to high-priority groups first.Indonesia now has the most confirmed daily cases in Asia, as infections and deaths have surged over the past month and India’s massive outbreak has waned. Infections peaked in mid-July, with the highest daily average reported at more than 50,000 new cases each day. Until mid-June, daily cases had been running at about 8,000.Since early this month, nearly 19,000 foreign nationals have left through Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in the capital, Jakarta.The exodus increased significantly in the past three days alone, accounting for nearly half of all individual departures this month, said Sam Fernando, who heads the immigration authority at the airport.Japan’s ambassador to Indonesia, Kenji Kanasugi, said the difficulty of getting vaccines for foreign nationals has prompted some Japanese citizens to get vaccinated in their home country.“Amid a pandemic situation that is very difficult for all of us, some Japanese citizens in Indonesia will temporarily return to Japan,” Kanasugi said on Instagram earlier this month.Japanese and Chinese nationals made up the largest share of departures, with 2,962 and 2,219 individuals respectively, followed by 1,616 South Korean citizens. Airport figures also showed departures by 1,425 Americans, as well as 842 French, 705 Russian, 700 British, 615 German and 546 Saudi Arabian citizens.Initially, only representatives of foreign countries and international nonprofit organizations were eligible for the government’s free vaccine program. The program was expanded last month to include those aged 60 and older, as well as teachers and education staff.Still, television reports showed foreigners complaining about the difficulties they’ve faced getting vaccinated.Wiku Adisasmito, a spokesman for the National COVID-19 Task Force, said Tuesday that limited vaccine supply remains a challenge. He expressed hope that 45 million more doses set to arrive in August would improve the situation.Indonesia, home to 270 million people, had secured at least 151.8 million vaccine doses by late July. The vast majority of doses — 126.5 million — are from the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac.Indonesia’s confirmed daily death toll surpassed 2,000 for the first time on Tuesday, hitting 2,069. The Health Ministry reported 45,203 new confirmed cases as the health system struggles to cope, and even patients fortunate enough to get a hospital bed are not guaranteed oxygen.Several countries have announced new bans or restrictions on travelers from Indonesia, including neighboring Singapore and the Philippines.Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Taiwan and Hong Kong are among the nations and territories that have placed Indonesia on their travel ban list.Overall, Indonesia has reported more than 3.2 million cases and 86,835 fatalities. Those figures are widely believed to be a vast undercount due to low testing and poor tracing measures.

Thousands of foreigners leave Indonesia amid COVID-19 crisis

Thousands of foreigners leave Indonesia amid COVID-19 crisis

Airport records show thousands of foreigners have left Indonesia in recent weeksBy NINIEK KARMINI Associated PressJuly 27, 2021, 10:46 AM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleJAKARTA, Indonesia — Thousands of foreigners have left Indonesia in recent weeks, airport records released Tuesday showed, apparently spurred by a brutal pandemic wave and a general shortage of vaccines, which have gone to high-priority groups first.Indonesia now has the most confirmed daily cases in Asia, as infections and deaths have surged over the past month and India’s massive outbreak has waned. Infections peaked in mid-July, with the highest daily average reported at more than 50,000 new cases each day. Until mid-June, daily cases had been running at about 8,000.Since early this month, nearly 19,000 foreign nationals have left through Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in the capital, Jakarta.The exodus increased significantly in the past three days alone, accounting for nearly half of all individual departures this month, said Sam Fernando, who heads the immigration authority at the airport.Japan’s ambassador to Indonesia, Kenji Kanasugi, said the difficulty of getting vaccines for foreign nationals has prompted some Japanese citizens to get vaccinated in their home country.“Amid a pandemic situation that is very difficult for all of us, some Japanese citizens in Indonesia will temporarily return to Japan,” Kanasugi said on Instagram earlier this month.Japanese and Chinese nationals made up the largest share of departures, with 2,962 and 2,219 individuals respectively, followed by 1,616 South Korean citizens. Airport figures also showed departures by 1,425 Americans, as well as 842 French, 705 Russian, 700 British, 615 German and 546 Saudi Arabian citizens.Initially, only representatives of foreign countries and international nonprofit organizations were eligible for the government’s free vaccine program. The program was expanded last month to include those aged 60 and older, as well as teachers and education staff.Still, television reports showed foreigners complaining about the difficulties they’ve faced getting vaccinated.Wiku Adisasmito, a spokesman for the National COVID-19 Task Force, said Tuesday that limited vaccine supply remains a challenge. He expressed hope that 45 million more doses set to arrive in August would improve the situation.Indonesia, home to 270 million people, had secured at least 151.8 million vaccine doses by late July. The vast majority of doses — 126.5 million — are from the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac.Indonesia’s daily death toll has continued to top 1,000 in the past two weeks. The health system is struggling to cope, and even patients fortunate enough to get a hospital bed are not guaranteed oxygen.Several countries have announced new bans or restrictions on travelers from Indonesia, including neighboring Singapore and the Philippines.Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Taiwan and Hong Kong are among the nations and territories that have placed Indonesia on their travel ban list.Overall, Indonesia has reported more than 3.1 million cases and 84,766 fatalities. Those figures are widely believed to be a vast undercount due to low testing and poor tracing measures.

Indonesian Muslims mark grim Eid amid devastating virus wave

Indonesian Muslims mark grim Eid amid devastating virus wave

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Muslims across Indonesia marked a grim Eid al-Adha festival for a second year Tuesday as the country struggles to cope with a devastating new wave of coronavirus cases and the government has banned large gatherings and toughened travel restrictions.Indonesia is now Asia’s COVID-19 hot spot with the most confirmed daily cases, as infections and deaths have surged over the past three weeks and India’s massive outbreak has waned.Most of Indonesia’s cases are on the densely populated island of Java, where more than half of the country’s 270 million people live. Authorities in the world’s most populous Muslim-majority nation have banned many of the crowd-attracting activities that are usually part of Eid al-Adha, the Feast of Sacrifice that marks the end of the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca.Authorities allowed prayers at local mosques in low-risk areas, but elsewhere houses of worship had no congregations, including Jakarta’s Istiqlal Grand Mosque, the largest in Southeast Asia.Officials also banned the huge crowds that usually fill the yards of mosques to participate in ritual animal slaughter for the festival. Religious leaders urged the faithful to pray inside their homes and children were told to not go out to meet friends.Indonesia’s health ministry reported 34,257 new coronavirus cases and 1,338 deaths on Monday, making it the country’s deadliest day since the start of the pandemic.COVID-19 infections in Indonesia are at their peak last week with the highest daily average reported at more than 50,000 new infections each day. Until mid-June, daily cases had been running at about 8,000.Overall, Indonesia has reported more than 2.9 million cases and 74,920 fatalities. Those figures are widely believed to be a vast undercount due to low testing and poor tracing measures.The government put emergency restrictions in place on July 3 across Java island and the tourist island of Bali, limiting all nonessential travel and gatherings and shutting malls, places of worship and entertainment centers. They were set to end on Tuesday in time for the country to celebrate Eid al-Adha.But with the wave of infections still expanding, the government’s COVID-19task force issued a special directive for the holiday week that bans all public travel, communal prayers, family visits and gatherings across Java and Bali, and expanded the lockdown measures to 15 cities and districts outside the two islands that have recorded sharp increases in COVID-19 cases.President Joko Widodo appealed to Muslims to perform Eid prayers and recitation of God is great at home with their families.“In the midst of the current pandemic, we need to be willing to sacrifice even more,” Widodo told televised remarks on the eve of Eid. “Sacrificing personal interests and putting the interests of the community and others first,” he said.Police set up highway checkpoints and blocked main roads for non-essential vehicles. Domestic flights and other modes of transportation were suspended, blocking people from making traditional family visits.“This is unfair … but we should follow for the sake of people’s safety,” said Eka Cahya Pratama, a civil servant in the capital, Jakarta. He said he has lost many relatives because of COVID-19, including his aunt and two uncles.“I feel really sad, I really miss them on the day of Eid,” he said.Indonesia’s current wave was fueled by travel during the Eid al-Fitr festival in May and by the rapid spread of the more contagious delta variant that emerged in India. Hospitals are swamped and oxygen supplies are running out, with growing numbers of the ill dying in isolation at home or while waiting to receive emergency care.With the health care system struggling to cope, even patients fortunate enough to get a hospital bed are not guaranteed oxygen.Other Asian countries are also struggling to contain rapidly rising infections amid sluggish vaccination campaigns and the spread of the delta variant. Among them are Muslim-majority places like Malaysia, Bangladesh and the southernmost four provinces of Thailand.Unlike Indonesia’s restrictions, Bangladesh controversially paused its coronavirus lockdown for eight days to mark Eid al-Adha, and its millions of people are shopping and traveling this week, raising fears the holiday will cause a virus surge that will collapse its already-struggling health care system.Malaysia also has struggled to control its outbreak, which has worsened despite being under a lockdown since June 1. Total cases have soared by 62% since June 1 to above 927,000. Hospitals, especially in the state of Selangor, have been overwhelmed, with some patients reportedly being treated on the floor due to a lack of beds, and corpses piling up in mortuaries. Vaccinations, however, have picked up, with nearly 15% of the population now fully inoculated.Malaysian Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin urged Muslims to stay home and celebrate the holiday modestly. “I appeal to you all to be patient and abide by the rules because your sacrifice is a great jihad in Allah’s sight and in our effort to save lives,” he said in a televised speech on the eve of the festival.Indonesia began vaccinating aggressively earlier than many countries in Southeast Asia. About 14% of its population have had at least one dose, primarily China’s Sinovac. But that may leave them susceptible, since Sinovac may be less effective against the delta variant. Both Indonesia and Thailand are planning booster shots of other vaccines for their Sinovac-immunized health workers.In Indonesia, land continues to be cleared for the dead as daily burials at dedicated graveyards for COVID-19 victims have increased 10-fold since May in Jakarta alone, according to government data.Families wait turns to bury their loved ones as gravediggers work late shifts. Last year, Indonesia’s highest Islamic clerical body issued a decree that mass graves — normally forbidden in Islam — would be permitted during the pandemic.———Associated Press writer Victoria Milko contributed to this report.

Indonesia short on oxygen, seeks help as virus cases soar

Indonesia short on oxygen, seeks help as virus cases soar

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Just two months ago, Indonesia was coming to a gasping India’s aid with thousands tanks of oxygen.Today, the Southeast Asia country is running out of oxygen as it endures a devastating wave of coronavirus cases and the government is seeking emergency supplies from other countries, including Singapore and China.A shipment of more than 1,000 oxygen cylinders, concentrators, ventilators and other health devices arrived from Singapore on Friday, followed by another 1,000 ventilators from Australia, said Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the government minister in charge of Indonesia’s pandemic response.Beside those donations, Indonesia plans to buy 36,000 tons of oxygen and 10,000 concentrators — devices that generate oxygen — from neighboring Singapore, Pandjaitan said.He said he is in touch with China and other potential oxygen sources. The U.S. and the United Arab Emirates also have offered help.“We recognize the difficult situation Indonesia currently finds itself in with a surge of COVID cases,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said. In addition to sending vaccines, the U.S. is working to increase assistance for Indonesia’s broader COVID-19 response efforts, she said, without elaborating.Overall, Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country, has reported more than 2.4 million infections and 64,631 fatalities from COVID-19. Those figures are widely believed to be a vast undercount due to low testing and poor tracing measures. Indonesia reported the highest toll of 1,040 deaths on Wednesday and nearly 39,000 confirmed cases on Thursday and Friday.Hospitals are swamped, with growing numbers of the ill dying in isolation at home or while waiting to receive emergency care.On Java, Indonesia’s most populous island, hospitals began setting up makeshift intensive care units in mid-June. Many patients are waiting for days to be admitted. Oxygen tanks were rolled out onto sidewalks for those lucky enough to get them, while others have been told they have to find their own.Emergency rooms at a public hospital in Bandung city closed earlier this week after running out of oxygen amid panic buying fueled by soaring infections in the West Java provincial capital, said Yaya Mulyana, the city’s deputy mayor.“Panicked people bought oxygen tanks even though they didn’t need them yet,” Mulyana said. “That has led to oxygen supplies running out.”At one hospital in Yogyakarta, in central Java, 63 COVID-19 patients died in one day — 33 of them during an outage of its central liquid oxygen supply, though the hospital had switched to using oxygen cylinders, spokesman Banu Hermawan said.Indonesia donated 3,400 oxygen cylinders and concentrators to India when a brutal outbreak ravaged the country. As its own cases surged, Jakarta then canceled a plan to send another 2,000 oxygen concentrators to India in late June.The daily need for oxygen has reached 1,928 tons a day. The country’s total available production capacity is 2,262 tons a day, according to government data.“I asked for 100% of oxygen go to medical purposes first, meaning that all industrial allocations must be transferred to medical,” said Pandjaitan, the government minister. “We are racing against time, we have to work fast.”Given the rapid spread of the highly infectious delta variant, he warned that Indonesia could face a worst-case scenario with 50,000 cases a day. The next two weeks will be critical, he said.The Ministry of Industry responded by issuing a decree that all oxygen supplies be sent to hospitals overflowing with coronavirus patients, and asked industry players to cooperate.Oxygen is used in making many products, including textiles, plastics and vehicles. Oil refiners, chemical manufacturers and steel makers also use it. But industry leaders have fallen in line in supporting government efforts to maximize supplies for hospitals.The government has redirected oxygen supplies from industrial plants in Morowali in Central Sulawesi, Balikpapan on Borneo island, and Belawan and Batam on Sumatra islands, Pandjaitan said. Smaller oxygen industries have also been directed to produce pharmaceutical oxygen.

Desperate Indonesians search for oxygen as virus cases soar

Desperate Indonesians search for oxygen as virus cases soar

JAKARTA, Indonesia — With his aunt gasping for breath at home from her COVID-19 infection, 17-year-old Ridho Milhasan took matters into his own hands Wednesday and went to find her some oxygen.After his uncle scrounged an empty tank from a friend, Milhasan found an oxygen filling station in southern Jakarta, waited in the long line of others also in desperate need, and emerged triumphantly after three hours with the supply he needed.“My aunt badly needed this oxygen,” he said before strapping the oxygen container to his small scooter. “This pandemic is getting dire.”Across Indonesia the coronavirus is again spreading rapidly, and Wednesday was the country’s deadliest day since the start of the pandemic with 1,040 reported deaths. Hospitals are bursting beyond capacity and oxygen supplies are running out, leaving people like Milhasan to do what they can to care for sick friends and relatives at home.In Milhasan’s case there was no other option — his uncle tried to get his aunt into multiple hospitals in Jakarta after she tested positive for COVID-19, but was turned away and told to find an oxygen tank and help her at home.“COVID-19 patients have had difficulties to get proper medical services,” Milhasan said. “Now they have to find their own oxygen.”Over the last two weeks, the 7-day rolling average of daily new cases in Indonesia has more than doubled from 4.72 new cases per 100,000 people on June 22 to 9.85 on July 6. Over the same period, the 7-day rolling average of daily deaths has gone from 0.11 to 0.20 per 100,000 people.Despite new lockdown measures and pledges from the government to provide more hospital beds and supplies, there’s no indication of that trend slowing.“This is our critical period during the next two weeks,” Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the government minister in charge of Indonesia’s pandemic response, told reporters on Tuesday. He pledged to move quickly to provide more hospital beds, healthcare equipment and oxygen.In the capital, daily burials have increased 10-fold since May, said Ngabila Salama, head of surveillance and immunization at the Jakarta Health Office. Of the 369 COVID-19 fatalities in Jakarta reported Saturday, 45 people died at home, she said.“We are worried that this is the tip of the iceberg,” said LaporCOVID-19, an independent virus data group that keeps track of deaths at home, noting that many go unreported. “This must be addressed immediately to prevent more people from dying outside of health facilities.”Overall, Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country, has reported nearly 2.4 million infections and almost 63,000 fatalities from COVID-19. Those figures are widely believed to be a vast undercount due to low testing and poor tracing measures.With the health care system struggling to cope with the ever-rising numbers, even patients fortunate enough to get a hospital bed are not guaranteed oxygen.Over the weekend, at least 33 patients with severe coronavirus infections died after the central supply of liquid medical oxygen ran out at a hospital in Yogyakarta.Indonesia’s Hospital Association said the problem is widespread, with many hospitals’ oxygen supplies running close to empty overnight before morning supplies are delivered.“We need the government’s guarantee that the distribution of medical oxygen can reach hospitals as needed and in time,” said the association’s secretary general, Lia Partakusuma.Across Java, Indonesia’s most populous island, hospitals began erecting tents in mid-June as makeshift intensive care units, and many patients waited for days before being admitted. Oxygen tanks were rolled out on the sidewalk for those lucky enough to receive them, while others were told they would need to find their own.Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told a parliamentary commission overseeing health issues on Monday that his ministry has set up a special unit to deal with oxygen supplies amid a dramatic spike in cases on Java and Bali islands.“We have identified oxygen needs in each hospital, and set up oxygen task forces in each province,” Sadikin said in a virtual hearing with the lawmakers.Sadikin said the Industry Ministry has been asked to dedicate 90% of oxygen production to medical oxygen, from the current 25%, where the rest is produced for industrial purposes. The daily need of COVID-19 patients is 1,928 tons a day, while the country’s total available production capacity is 2,262 tons a day, according to government data.He said the scarcity of oxygen in several areas was largely due to distribution not keeping up with skyrocketing demand, and pledged the government would “take all efforts to fix it and speed up distribution to areas with high virus infection cases.”———Associated Press writer Edna Tarigan and photographer Achmad Ibrahim contributed to this report.

Russia, Indonesia talk up ASEAN's consensus on Myanmar peace

Russia, Indonesia talk up ASEAN's consensus on Myanmar peace

Russia’s top diplomat expressed his backing for Southeast Asian efforts toward achieving peace in Myanmar on his visit to Indonesia to demonstrate the region’s importance to MoscowBy NINIEK KARMINI Associated PressJuly 6, 2021, 7:42 AM• 2 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleJAKARTA, Indonesia — Russia’s top diplomat expressed his backing for Southeast Asian efforts toward achieving peace in Myanmar on his visit Tuesday to Indonesia to demonstrate the region’s importance to Moscow.Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, on a four-day visit to Southeast Asian countries, arrived in Jakarta on Monday from Brunei, where he met with Brunei’s Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, this year’s chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.After holding talks with his Indonesian counterpart Retno Marsudi, Lavrov said he briefed Marsudi on the messages Russia has sent to Myanmar’s military leaders and told Marsudi that Russia considered the ASEAN position “a basis for restoring the situation back to normalcy.”At their joint video news conference, Marsudi emphasized the importance of following up on the five-point consensus to which ASEAN and Myanmar’s military leader agreed in April and asked Russia to support its implementation.“This requires the commitment of Myanmar’s military to cooperate with other ASEAN member countries,” she said.The five-point consensus called for violence to end immediately and for the start of constructive dialogue to find a peaceful solution “in the interests of the people.” It was also agreed that a special envoy of the ASEAN chair will mediate in the talks.“We reiterated our strong support for the ASEAN’s five principles,” Lavrov said.Lavrov also affirmed a deepening of economic and political ties with Indonesia, which will hold the G-20 presidency next year, and the two officials also discussed preparation for President Vladimir Putin’s visit to Indonesia later this year.The two officials also discussed the challenges caused by the coronavirus pandemic in the Asia-Pacific region and the world.Marsudi said Indonesia and Russia agreed to cooperate on health matters, including COVID-19 vaccines.Surging infections have strained Indonesia’s health care system while it also struggles to roll out vaccinations.Lavrov and Marsudi are scheduled to co-chair a video meeting with other ASEAN foreign ministers before the Russian envoy departs for another Southeast Asia country, Laos.

Indonesia records its largest 1-day jump in COVID infections

Indonesia records its largest 1-day jump in COVID infections

Indonesian health authorities have announced the country’s largest one-day jump in new coronavirus infections, as the country’s number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began crosses 2 millionBy NINIEK KARMINI Associated PressJune 21, 2021, 12:16 PM• 3 min readShare to FacebookShare to TwitterEmail this articleJAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian health authorities announced the country’s largest one-day jump in new coronavirus infections on Monday, as the number of confirmed cases since the pandemic began crossed 2 million.The Health Ministry reported 14,536 new infections and 294 deaths, bringing the country’s total confirmed fatalities to more than 54,950. Both the total cases and total deaths are the most in Southeast Asia.Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has seen infections surge in recent weeks, a climb that has been blamed on travel during last month’s Eid al-Fitr holiday as well as the arrival of new virus variants, such as the the Delta version first found in India.The surge is putting pressure on hospitals, including in Jakarta, where 80% of hospital beds are full, and has added urgency to the government’s plan to inoculate 1 million people each day by next month. Authorities have so far only fully vaccinated 12.3 million of Indonesia’s 270 million people and partially vaccinated another 10.9 million.The World Health Organization last week said Indonesia’s drastic increase in hospital bed occupancy rates is a major concern and necessitates stricter public health and social measures, including large-scale social restrictions.The government has resisted a large-scale lockdown due to fears of the economic impact. Offices, restaurants. shopping malls and places of worship remain open, though at 50% of their capacity.“The situation is worrying,” said Riris Andono Ahmad, an epidemiologist at Gajah Mada University. “We are facing a second wave of COVID-19 with the most transmissible variant and the public’s low compliance with health protocols.”He urged stricter measures.“All of the government’s efforts and policy to curb COVID-19 transmission will be ineffective if it gives room for people to gather and crowd,” he said.The national COVID-19 task force said a spike in infections has been seen in Jakarta, Banten, West Java, Central Java, Yogyakarta and East Java provinces. All are on Java, the most populous of Indonesia’s more than 17,000 islands.President Joko Widodo last week ordered authorities to step up the vaccination rate.The slow progress in immunizations so far can be attributed to the limited global supply of vaccines, the unpreparedness of the national health system and vaccine hesitancy, national COVID-19 task force spokesperson Wiku Adisasmito said.The government has received 104.7 million vaccine doses, including 94.5 million of Sinovac, 8.2 million of AstraZeneca, and 2 million of Sinopharm. It expects to receive about 50 million Pfizer doses in the coming months, followed by 50 million Moderna doses.Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin has said deals to import around 104 million AstraZeneca doses have been hit by delays and now only 20 million doses are expected to arrive this year.———Associated Press writers Victoria Milko and Edna Tarigan contributed to this report.

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