A healthcare worker wearing personal protective equipment addresses a Covid-19 patient with an oxygen mask in a wheelchair outside Bekasi Public Hospital.
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Indonesia reported the highest number of new coronavirus infections in the world for the week ended July 18, according to the World Health Organization.
As numbers seem to be falling in recent days, a public health expert says deaths will continue to rise.
The fourth most populous country in the world has surpassed India to be the new epicenter of coronavirus in Asia, surpassing India in June in terms of new daily high cases per million people, showed data compiled by Our World in the data.
WHO Last Week Epidemiology Update said more than 3.4 million new cases were reported globally between July 12 and 18 as well many countries around the world continue to experience major waves.
Indonesia topped the list with the highest number of new infections during that period with 350,273 cases an increase of 44% from a week earlier. It was followed by the UK, Brazil, India and the US
To be clear, Indonesia still follows the US, India and 11 other countries in terms of total infections, according to data compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
The US has reported more than 34.22 million cases so far while India has had more than 31.25 million cases although health experts believe the numbers are under heavily reported there. In comparison, the Southeast Asian nation has reported 2.98 million infections so far, Hopkins data showed.
Indonesia reported a record 1,383 deaths on Wednesday despite emergency measures aimed at curbing the spread of the disease.
That figure could continue to rise in the coming days, according to Ben Cowling, a professor at the University of Hong Kong School of Public Health.
“Deaths are likely to continue to rise for another 2-3 weeks due to the delay between case confirmation and mortality,” he told CNBC in an email.
Just this week, Indonesian President Joko Widodo extended Covid restrictions, but said daily infections have dropped. He said health measures could be eased starting July 26 if new cases continue to fall.
According to our World Data, Indonesia reported a new high of 56,757 cases confirmed on July 15, and infections fell almost daily since then.
Cowling said it is reasonable to interpret the number of declining issues as showing the impact of stronger constraints. But Edhie Rahmat, executive director for Indonesia at a humanitarian organization, said the decline could be due to other factors.
One is that fewer tests are being administered as Indonesians do not want to be tested, he told CNBC in an email.
“Officials may say the newly confirmed Covid-19 cases are falling, but that’s because the number of tests and tracking is declining following the implementation of tough social restrictions in Java,” said Rahmat of the HOPE Project, or Health Opportunity. for People Everywhere.
“There is a growing reluctance among people to get tested even if they have a runny nose, fever or other Covid-19 symptoms,” he said, adding that they do not want to be asked to isolate themselves or face the stigma of positive testing.
Indonesia tested a record number of 188,551 people on July 17, according to Our World in Data. That figure dropped to 138,046 the next day and to 127,590 the next day.
Cases and tests have only dropped for a few days, and may not necessarily represent a trend. However, even if Covid infections continue to decline, Rahmat said the overall number of active cases remains very high.
He also said local governments should continue to rely on people outside the medical sector to transport and distribute oxygen because healthcare workers are overwhelmed by caring for patients and administering vaccines.
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