Two months ago, Indonesia was rushing to India’s rescue with thousands of tanks of oxygen.
The country in Southeast Asia is currently running out of oxygen after suffering a severe wave of coronavirus infections. It is now seeking emergency supplies from China and Singapore.
Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, the minister responsible for Indonesia’s pandemic response, stated that a shipment of more than 1,000 oxygen concentrators, ventilators, and oxygen cylinders arrived in Singapore Friday.
Pandjaitan stated that Indonesia will purchase 36,000 tons of oxygen from Singapore and 10,000 concentrators — devices which generate oxygen — for the same amount.
He stated that he was in contact with China and other potential oxygen suppliers. The United States and United Arab Emirates have also offered their assistance.
Jen Psaki, White House press secretary, stated that “We are aware of the dire situation Indonesia is in due to a rise in COVID cases.” She said that the U.S. was working to expand assistance to Indonesia’s wider COVID-19 response efforts.
Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, with more than 2.4million infections and 64.631 deaths from COVID-19. These figures are believed to be an undercount due to poor testing and poor tracing. The highest death toll was reported in Indonesia on Wednesday, with 1,040 confirmed cases and almost 39,000 on Thursday and Friday.
Hospitals are overwhelmed with increasing numbers of people who are ill and dying at home, or waiting for emergency care.
In mid-June, hospitals on Java, Indonesia’s largest island, began to set up temporary intensive care units. Patients are still waiting days for admission. For those who were lucky enough to have them, oxygen tanks were placed on the sidewalks. Others were told that they must find their own.
Yaya Mulyana said that emergency rooms in Bandung’s public hospital were closed this week due to lack of oxygen. This was in response to panic buying, which was fueled by high-stakes infections in West Java province capital.
Mulyana stated that “Panicked persons bought oxygen tanks even if they didn’t require them yet.” “This has caused oxygen supplies to run out.”
One hospital in Yogyakarta in central Java saw 63 COVID-19 victims die in one day. 33 of them died during an outage in its central liquid oxygen supply. However, the hospital had switched over to oxygen cylinders after Banu Hermawan, a spokesperson, said.
After a devastating outbreak, Indonesia donated 3,400 oxygen concentrators and cylinders to India. Jakarta cancelled plans to send another 2000 oxygen concentrators from India in June as its own cases rose.
Daily oxygen consumption has reached 1,928 tonnes per day. According to government data, the country has a total production capacity of 2,262 tons per day.
Minister Pandjaitan stated that he requested that 100% of oxygen be used for medical purposes first. This means that all industrial allocations must transfer to medical. “We are racing against the clock, we must work fast.
He warned that Indonesia could be hit with as many as 50,000 cases per day due to the rapid spread of the highly infectious Delta variant. He said that the next two weeks are crucial.
The Ministry of Industry issued a decree directing that oxygen supplies be sent only to hospitals with too many coronavirus patients. It also asked for industry cooperation.
Many products are made with oxygen, including plastics and textiles. It is also used by steelmakers, chemical producers, oil refiners and chemical manufacturers. Industry leaders are not supporting the government’s efforts to increase hospital supplies.
Pandjaitan stated that the government has diverted oxygen supplies from three industrial plants located in Central Sulawesi: Morowali on Central Sulawesi and Balikpapan, both on Borneo Island, as well as Belawan, Batam, and Batam, on Sumatra Islands. Pandjaitan said that smaller oxygen industries were also directed to make pharmaceutical oxygen.