The Delta variant has reported more daily Covid-19 cases than Indonesia, India and Brazil as it swept southeast Asia and put heavy strain on health systems. The country has announced more than 34,000 cases in the last 24 hours. However, most countries in the region are experiencing their worst outbreaks since the pandemic began, due to the emergence of more aggressive variants and a lack of vaccines. In Thailand, field hospitals are being built at the capital’s two airports. In Myanmar, social media is overflowing with a desperate demand for oxygen.
In Indonesia, which is currently the country worst affected by the pandemic in the world, volunteer undertakers visit homes to collect the corpses of people who cannot access treatment.
In the last 24 hours, the country reported 34,257 new cases, the country reported 51,952 cases and 1,338 deaths. These figures are higher than India and Brazil. According to official records, more than 72,400 people have died in Indonesia so far.
However, scientists believe their numbers in Indonesia are seriously underestimated.
Indonesian epidemiologist from Griffith University in Australia, Dr. Dicky Budiman said, “The center of the epidemic has now shifted to Indonesia. We miss many cases and perhaps 80 percent of these cases cannot be identified in the community. Because if the person who comes to the health institution shows symptoms or is diagnosed as contact, testing is done.”
Indonesia has conducted an average of 55.89 tests per 1,000 people since the start of the pandemic, according to Our World in Data. This situation has made it one of the countries with the weakest test system in the world… In England, which has one of the highest rates, 3 million 311 tests per thousand people were performed.
On the other hand, while we hope mass vaccination campaigns in the US and Europe will help alleviate cases of new, more aggressive variants, vaccination rates in Southeast Asia remain extremely low.
Only less than 4 percent of the population in Myanmar has received a dose of the vaccine. After the military coup in February, the country’s vaccination campaign and healthcare system collapsed. Independent news site Irrawaddy reported that the four major cemeteries in Myanmar’s main city of Yangon are experiencing one of their busiest weeks ever. On Thursday alone, more than 700 people were buried in the cemeteries. In Vietnam, another country with millions under re-isolation, less than 1 percent of citizens are fully vaccinated. Thailand and the Philippines have fully vaccinated less than 5 percent of their populations.
The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies warned of the “widening global vaccine divide” and urged wealthier countries to speed up vaccine distributions.
On the other hand, Budiman stated that there is a need for more cooperation between Southeast Asian countries and added that the region has a very active population. He said Indonesia and other nations cannot rely on vaccines and should instead focus on strengthening surveillance:
“We must have a public health-based response: Early detection, testing and monitoring.”