Indonesia received desperately needed supplies of oxygen and protective equipment from neighbouring Singapore on Friday to support its overwhelmed healthcare system, as the country battles its deadliest coronavirus wave yet.
The Southeast Asian archipelago is being hit by a major outbreak driven by the highly infectious Delta variant, which has led to authorities imposing new curbs nationwide.
Hospitals are struggling to cope, with many now refusing new patients, leaving scores to die at home, while desperate relatives hunt for oxygen tanks to treat the sick.
Singapore sent supplies including oxygen cylinders, ventilators, masks, gloves and gowns on two air force planes to Jakarta, the city-state’s foreign ministry said.
Another 1,000 ventilators were due to arrive from Australia later Friday, while Indonesian officials plan to buy more supplies of oxygen and other equipment.
The supplies are sorely needed as hospitals set up makeshift treatment tents in parking lots and doctors and other medical workers increasingly become infected.
Nearly 1,000 Indonesian medical workers have died of Covid-19, including more than a dozen who were already fully inoculated, according to the country’s medical association.
At a hospital in Surabaya, on hard-hit Java island, virus patients were queuing for treatment as the facility struggled to cope with a shortage of medics.
“Many of our own medical workers are infected by Covid-19,” said hospital spokesman Redita Putri Iriani.
“When a patient is discharged, a new one immediately arrives. We all feel overwhelmed.”
The world’s fourth most populous nation is reporting tens of thousands of cases a day, and logged a record daily death toll of 1,040 earlier this week.
Indonesia, with a population of 270 million, has recorded a total caseload of over 2.4 million – but testing rates are low and experts believe the true figure is far higher.
New curbs that started at the weekend saw offices, mosques, parks, shopping malls and restaurants closed in the hard-hit capital Jakarta and Java as well as holiday hotspot Bali.
Restrictions have since been expanded nationwide as the Delta variant takes hold, and the government has warned the worst may be yet to come.