The Eye of the Pandemic Has Shifted

Things are worsening in Indonesia
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 19, 2021 10:46 AM CDT
The Eye of the Pandemic Has Shifted
Health workers place the body of a COVID-19 victim into a bag to take to a burial in Denpasar, Bali, Indonesia, on July 15. The world's fourth most populous country has been hit hard by an explosion of COVID-19 cases that have strained hospitals on the main island of Java.   (AP Photo/Firdia Lisnawati)

For months, India and Brazil have taken up a disproportionate number of COVID-19 headlines, with stories emerging of bloated bodies in the Ganges and collapsing hospital systems. The New York Times says the eye of the pandemic's storm has shifted to a new location: the fourth most populous country, Indonesia. As a disaster management researcher puts it to the Washington Post, "It’s frustrating, if not catastrophic. I am not trying to exaggerate the situation, but we, Indonesia, might no longer be just a hot spot, we might be a burned spot." By the numbers:

  • New infections stood at 57,000 on Thursday, a seven-fold increase over a month prior, and one that some health experts believe is a vast undercount due to the limited testing being done (one Indonesia epidemiologist suspects the true count could be as high as 300,000).
  • On Saturday, the Guardian reports the number was just shy of 52,000, meaning the country had outpaced India and Brazil for the third day straight. The only country to record more new infections on Saturday was the UK, at about 54,500, but it has a much higher testing rate.
  • Friday's deaths stood at 1,205, bringing its total to 71,000—still well below that of the US, which is home to about 60 million additional people.

  • Indonesia had for a long time managed to keep a lid on the virus, but with vaccination rates low and the delta variant spreading, oxygen is now scarce and tents are popping up to try to accommodate an influx of patients. How low? About 6% of the country's 270 million people are fully vaccinated; 15% have gotten one dose. China's Sinovac has been most widely used there; it has lower efficacy than some other vaccines being administered.
(More COVID-19 stories.)

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