Recent studies have also indicated cases could be far higher than the nearly 1.9 million known infections, among Asia’s highest caseloads. The country also has testing and tracing shortfalls, and its immunization drive has progressed slowly, with one in 18 people targeted for inoculations fully vaccinated so far. Dicky Budiman, an epidemiologist from Australia’s Griffith University, said Indonesia should take variants more seriously — particularly the B.1.617.2 strain, first identified in India, which he said was in its early stage of spreading.
Wildan attributed the spike to increased mobility and possible spread of coronavirus variants, which have driven big spikes in many countries. In Riau on Sumatra, daily cases more than doubled from early April to over 800 by mid-May, while the positivity rate was at 35.8% last week, said Wildan Asfan Hasibuan, an epidemiologist and provincial task force adviser.
The impact of variants is hard to determine in Indonesia, which has limited genomic sequencing capacity. Defriman Djafri, an epidemiologist from Andalas University in Padang, said fatalities in West Sumatra in May were the highest on record.
“It means sooner or later it will reach the more vulnerable … we will face an explosion of cases which we cannot contain or respond to in our health facilities.” “If we don’t change our strategy, we will face an explosion of cases in the community, mortality will increase,” he said.
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