JAKARTA: Indonesia is adding hospital beds in anticipation of a jump in Covid-19 infections after Eid holidays in the country that’s home to the world’s largest Muslim population.
The number of coronavirus cases will probably increase as people continue to gather and travel during the break despite a government travel ban, with holidays usually leading to a 40%-60% jump in cases, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said in an interview today.
Every year, more than 80 million Indonesians typically travel to their hometowns to celebrate Eid, a holiday marked by gatherings and family reunions after a month of daily fasting.
This time, just like last year, people are restricted from traveling home, though there are frequent reports of those flouting the rules.
Around 70,000 hospital beds are being allocated to treat coronavirus patients across the nation, out of a total of 390,000 beds available nationally, said Sadikin.
Indonesia has around 70,000 intensive care units operating in the country, 7,500 of which are dedicated for Covid-19 patients, he said.
More than 1.7 million Indonesians have been infected and almost 48,000 have died, making it the worst outbreak in Southeast Asia.
Daily new cases peaked in January at around 14,500 after Christmas and year-end holidays, before gradually falling to around 4,000 as the nationwide vaccination programme began and the government continued to impose restrictions on mobility.
A health ministry study has shown that vaccination, which kicked off in January, has succeeded in bringing down the number of severe cases and reducing death rates among health workers to zero.
More than 13 million people have received at least their first dose, with the government targeting to inoculate 181.5 million people to achieve herd immunity.
Sadikin’s concern comes as India, the world’s second most populous country, becomes the new epicentre of the global pandemic and reports record numbers of new infections each day, overwhelming its health system.
“We need to prepare for the worst,” Sadikin said.
“We don’t want to end up like India.”