Wasvyn Djanata was waiting for the results of his Covid-19 test when he died in the hospital corridor in Wonosobo in the mountains of Java Island, Indonesia.

The test result was positive, and the 57-year-old unvaccinated old man was buried by his brother because of a shortage of mortuary assistants.

“My brother died before getting proper treatment,” Farid Overtime said.

As Southeast Asia’s largest economy has been hit by the region’s worst coronavirus outbreak, the family’s experience has echoed throughout Indonesia. The death toll exceeded 100,000 last week.

The Government of Indonesian President Joko Widodo harsh criticism Apply restrictions in an inconsistent way and choose not to implement a nationwide blockade.

But the crisis in Indonesia also exposed the serious challenges faced by many countries engaged in the informal economy: if a country threatens the livelihoods of a large number of people, whether to shut it down.

Confusing decision-making hinders response

“This is the biggest challenge facing healthcare [system] Like other departments, this is a multifaceted problem,” said Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist at Griffith University in Australia. He estimated that the number of infections may be at least four times the official figure. The death toll is at least twice.

Indonesia has extended the Covid restrictions imposed last month to August 9. These include non-essential departments working from home, online education, and bans on dining in restaurants in Java, Bali, Sumatra, and Papua. The government also vowed to strengthen testing and contact tracing.

Widodo stated that these measures will reduce the spread of Covid-19 and avoid “the paralysis of hospitals due to overcapacity.”

Farid Overtime (middle) had to bury his brother

But Budiman said these restrictions should last at least four to six weeks before they can take effect.

Irma Hidayana, co-founder of the citizen data initiative LaporCovid-19, said the authorities “denied” how long these restrictions would need to last. She added that the government relaxed some regulations “too fast” at the end of last month, including allowing traditional markets and some small businesses to operate in hard-hit areas.

Marcus Mietzner, assistant professor of political science at the Australian National University, acknowledged that this relatively poor country faces challenges, but said the government’s mistakes have exacerbated the crisis.

He said: “The current situation is the logical result of the interaction between the epidemiological nature of the virus and the Indonesian government’s stubborn defense of the immature policy.”

Indonesia has also been working hard to vaccinate its 270 million people. Vaccination efforts rely heavily on China’s Xenoxin vaccine, but due to limited supply, distribution challenges and vaccine suspicions, only about 8% of the population received two doses of vaccine.

Hundreds of vaccinated doctors were subsequently infected, further raising concerns about the effectiveness of Kexing’s vaccine. Authorities have begun to provide health workers with enhanced Moderna injections.

Mietzner said the government’s message that vaccines will end the crisis “misled the public and led to further weakening of other public health measures.”

The line chart shows the 7-day rolling average of new Covid-19 cases per 100,000 people in Indonesia, Brazil, Russia, and India since June 1, 2022

But some observers warn that the choices facing governments in poor countries are not clear.

Winfried Wicklin, deputy director general of the Asian Development Bank for Southeast Asia, said that compared with developed economies, the economic situation has made the decision to blockade more complicated.

“A country like Indonesia with a large informal sector is less able to cope with a large-scale or complete lockdown because many people have to live on daily wages,” he said. “This is the main dilemma between life and livelihood for any country.”

New variants threaten the health system

The spread of the Covid-19 variant in the more remote and underdeveloped areas of Indonesia’s vast archipelago, where hospitals are poorly equipped, and vaccination rates are low, have caused particular concern.

Fansca Titaheluw, Acting Director of Jayapura Provita Hospital in the capital of Papua, said that three Covid-19 patients and a baby in the intensive care unit had died due to oxygen shortages. There are only 13 oxygen tubes left in the hospital, but 80 to 100 oxygen tubes are needed every day to deal with them.

“If the outbreak caused by the Delta variant continues without changing the attitude of the community, Jayapura will fall into chaos,” she said. “There are only seven hospitals and many medical staff have been infected.”

Some cities in Indonesia have been damaged by oxygen shortage © Juni Kriswanto/AFP/Getty

I Gusti Agung Ngurah Anom, President of the Bali Medical Association, said that tourist hotspots have to deal with intermittent oxygen supply problems. The Governor of Bali, Wayan Koster, stated that the situation is still “controllable” and that “no one is late in meeting the oxygen needs of hospital patients”.

Bali’s vaccination rate is the highest in the country: about 70% of people received the first dose of the vaccine, and nearly a quarter of them received the vaccine.

But its economy—about half of which relies on tourism—shrank by 12.3% in 2020. The number of daily visitors has plummeted from 10,000 in January to between 300 and 400.

“It’s very difficult for Bali,” Wayne said. “We hope this [restrictions] It will not last long before the tourism industry can recover. But in the short term, Bali has no choice. ”

Additional report by Febriana Firdaus

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