Indonesia seeks oxygen supplies amid rising Covid-19 cases

Parts of Indonesia are running low on oxygen as the number of critically ill Covid-19 patients who need it increases, the head of the national pandemic response has said.

The appeal came after dozens of sick people died in a public hospital that lacked its central supply.

Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the coordinating minister for maritime affairs and investments, said: “Due to a three to four times increase in the amount (of oxygen) needed, distribution has been hampered.

The government is asking oxygen producers to devote their entire supply to medical needs and import it if necessary, Pandjaitan said.

The statement comes after Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikit said the government was guaranteeing the oxygen supply to Covid-19 patients on June 26.

A health worker rides in oxygen tanks
There have been oxygen shortages in some hospitals, with fatal consequences (AP)

“It was the deterioration of their health that contributed the most to their death,” said Mr. Hermawan.

The hospital’s central oxygen supply was back on line at 4:45 a.m. Sunday, after 15 tons of liquid oxygen had been delivered. Medical oxygen comes in liquid and compressed form.

Yogyakarta Governor Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X said hospitals needed more oxygen than before due to the growing number of Covid-19 patients in the province.

“We need more oxygen supply. But that doesn’t mean there is no supply at all, ”he said.

Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has seen a rapid increase in Covid-19 cases over the past two weeks.

On Sunday, the health ministry recorded 27,233 new cases with 555 deaths from the virus. The country has recorded more than 2,284,000 cases, including 60,582 deaths.

Mr Pandjaitan said the incubation period means the number of infected people will continuously increase until mid-July.

“It can increase further in the future if we cannot be disciplined,” he said.

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