Indonesia reported 54,517 new cases of Covid-19, authorities said Wednesday, a single-day national record and dire warning sign for the world's fourth-most populous country. The island nation -- home to about 270 million people -- is now reporting more cases a day than hard-hit India, making Indonesia the new epicenter for the pandemic in Asia.
If the spread continues unabated, experts say it could push Indonesia's health care system to the brink of disaster, reports the CNN.
Some fear the situation may be worse than the numbers show, because not enough people are getting tested for the virus. A survey published Saturday found that nearly half of the 10.6 million residents of Jakarta may have contracted Covid-19.
Experts say Indonesia is now reaping the costs of not implementing strict lockdowns nor investing enough in efficient contact-tracing systems.
Officials are worried that hospitals may not be able to cope with rising number of patients requiring hospitalization, especially as the more infectious Delta variant of the virus spreads. Another 991 Covid-19 fatalities were also reported Wednesday, pushing the total death toll to 69,210.
"Every day we are seeing this Delta variant driving Indonesia closer to the edge of a Covid-19 catastrophe," said Jan Gelfand, head of the Indonesian delegation of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC).
State-run Antara News reported that 90,000 of Indonesia's 120,000 hospital beds are now occupied. Prices of oxygen surged in late June, and now some hospitals appear to be running out. More than 60 people died in a single facility earlier this month after a hospital on Java nearly exhausted its oxygen supply, though a hospital spokesman could not confirm if all the dead had contracted Covid-19.
The islands of Bali and Java -- which is home to Jakarta, the densely populated capital -- were placed under emergency lockdown last week.
In Jakarta, about 2 million people -- some 18% of the city's population -- have been fully vaccinated, according to data from the health ministry.
President Joko Widodo said Wednesday vaccines are Indonesia's "hope to recover from this global health crisis."
"Fair and equal access to vaccines must be guaranteed since we see there is still a wide gap in vaccine access throughout the country," he said, according to Antara.
On Tuesday, nearly 3.5 million doses of AstraZeneca's Covid-19 vaccine arrived in Indonesia as part of the global vaccine sharing program COVAX. Indonesia has received more than 14 million vaccines through the program, according to state media.