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Indonesia’s coronavirus spike has health experts worried that the worst has yet to come

The number of cases has risen sharply in Java and Sumatra three weeks after the holidays that followed the Islamic fasting month as millions ventured across the archipelago and ignored a temporary travel ban.

In Kudus, Central Java, cases rose 7.594% since then, according to Wiku Adisasmito of Indonesia’s Covid-19 task force. Reinforcement of the health service has been introduced, but the capacity of the hospital had hit 90%, local media reported.

Defriman Djafri, an epidemiologist from Andalas University in Padang, said deaths in West Sumatra in May were the highest recorded.

In Riau, Sumatra, daily cases more than doubled from early April to over 800 in mid-May, while the positivity rate was 35.8% last week, said Wildan Asfan Hasibuan, an epidemiologist and provincial task force. adviser.

In addition to India, a growing number of Asian countries are being ravaged by fresh coronavirus waves

Wildan attributed the spike to increased mobility and possible spread of coronavirus variants, which have driven large spikes in many countries.

The effects of variants are difficult to determine in Indonesia, which has limited genomic sequencing capacity.

The country also has testing and detection of deficiencies, and its immunization drive has been slow, with one in 18 people targeting vaccinations that have been fully vaccinated so far.

Recent studies have also shown that cases could be far higher than the nearly 1.9 million known infections among Asia’s highest cases.

Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist from Australia’s Griffith University, said Indonesia should take variants more seriously – especially the B.1.617.2 strain, which was first identified in India, which he said was in its early stages of proliferation.

“If we do not change our strategy, we will face an explosion of cases in society, mortality will increase,” he said.

“It means sooner or later that it reaches the more vulnerable … we will face an explosion of cases that we cannot contain or respond to in our healthcare facilities.”

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