Indonesia, the world’s fourth-largest nation, is the latest hotspot for the fast-moving, highly contagious delta variant of COVID-19.
The nation reported more than 54,517 new coronavirus infections Wednesday, a new single-day record, along with 991 deaths. Hospitals on Java island are overflowing with infected patients and residents scrambling to find oxygen tanks to treat family members isolating at home.
Indonesia’s rising daily COVID-19 rates have begun to outstrip that of India, where the variant was first detected. India endured a disastrous outbreak earlier this year, with a peak of more than 400,000 daily cases in early May, now down to about 40,000.
The Associated Press says about 1.5 million doses of the two-dose Moderna vaccine are set to arrive in Indonesia from the United States Thursday, coming on the heels of three million doses that arrived Sunday. Only 15 million of the country’s 270 million people have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19.
Lockdown in Victoria state, Australia
The delta variant outbreak continues to wreak havoc in Australia, where officials in the southern state of Victoria imposed an immediate five-day lockdown Thursday as the number of new cases there rose to 18 in just over two days.
Victoria state Premier Daniel Andrews said the state’s six million residents, including its capital Melbourne, will only be able to leave home for medical reasons, essential work, school, grocery shopping, exercise and getting vaccinated. The lockdown is Victoria state’s third lockdown this year and its fifth since the start of the pandemic.
“We would prefer that we didn't have to deal with these issues, but this is so infectious, this is such a challenge that we have, we must do this,” Andrews told reporters in Melbourne. “You only get one chance to go hard and go fast.”
The latest stay-at-home order for Victoria state comes a day after neighboring New South Wales state extended the current lockdown for its capital, Sydney, for another two weeks.
The lockdown was first imposed on June 26 after a Sydney airport limousine driver who had been transporting international air crews tested positive for the variant. More than 800 people have since been infected, including 97 new infections reported Wednesday.
Two people have died in the current outbreak.
Sydney’s five million residents are only allowed to leave home for work, exercise, essential shopping or medical reasons, while schools and many non-essential businesses are closed.
Australia has been largely successful in containing the spread of COVID-19 through aggressive lockdown efforts, posting just 31,513 total confirmed cases and 912 deaths, according to the Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center. But it has proved vulnerable to fresh outbreaks due to a slow rollout of its vaccination campaign and confusing requirements involving the two-shot AstraZeneca vaccine, which is the dominant vaccine in its stockpile.
Overall, Australia has administered over 9.4 million doses of vaccine to its population of more than 25 million people, or less than 10%, according to Johns Hopkins.
The current worldwide toll from the COVID-19 pandemic now stands at 188.4 million confirmed infections, including over 4 million deaths.