Indonesian experts warn of future spike in Covid-19 fatality rate as country's total hits almost 707,000

Health workers injecting a civil servant with a Covid-19 vaccine during a vaccine drive simulation at the Udayana Military Command in Denpasar, Bali, on Dec 10. - Jakarta Post/Asian News Network

JAKARTA, Dec 26 (The Jakarta Post/ANN): Experts have warned of a possible spike in Indonesia’s Covid-19 fatality rate as the country sees a constant increase in daily cases.

From Dec 1 to Friday (Dec 25), Indonesia recorded over 5,000 cases in a single day. The peak so far came on Dec. 3 with 8,369 cases, while there were four days that saw over 7,000 cases per day.

Indonesia recorded its biggest daily rise in Covid-19 deaths on Friday with 258 fatalities, taking the total to 20,847, data by the country's health ministry showed.

The data on Friday, showed coronavirus infections increased by 7,259, bringing the number of cases to 700,097.

The Health Ministry announced 6,740 new confirmed Covid-19 cases on Saturday (Dec 26), bringing the total number of infections nationwide to 706,837.

According to data released by the ministry on Saturday, 147 more people have died of the disease, bringing the death toll to 20,994.

The total number of recovered patients has also increased to 576,693.

The ministry reported that 31,232 people were tested on Saturday, bringing the total number of people tested to 4,732,231.

The capital city recorded 2,058 new confirmed cases, bringing the total tally to 173,929. Meanwhile, Central Java reported 871 new cases, East Java 803, West Java 601, South Sulawesi 547, and East Kalimantan 288. The virus has spread to all of the country's 34 provinces.

Indonesia has the highest coronavirus caseload and death toll in South-East Asia. The case total number and death toll is also among the highest in Asia.

Seeing the alarming trend, molecular biology expert Ahmad Rusdan Handoyo Utomo said the country should brace for a possible surge in the Covid-19 death rate, especially after hospitals nationwide reported they were running out of beds for patients.

The high occupancy rate for hospital best, Ahmad went on to say, contributed to an increase in opportunity for patients to recover.

However, in exchange, this would lead to a lack of space for new Covid-19 patients who need further medical treatment.

KawalCovid-19, a volunteer group that independently records the case numbers and fatalities, revealed in September that Indonesia had among the world’s highest COVID-19 death rates in the 17 years and younger age group.

The group discovered that the case fatality rate (CFR) of this age group was at 0.9 per cent or 45 times higher than the United States at 0.02 per cent. The CFR itself is defined as the proportion of infections that results in death.

“That means 145 out of 16,007 infected children in the age group have died,” said KawalCovid-19 co-founder Ainun Najib.

Regardless, Ahmad said Covid-19 fatality at this stage was more preventable compared to when the disease first emerged in the nation.

Two major factors decrease the risk of a Covid-19 death in the country, such as a patient’s age and the doctors’ understanding of the pandemic, he further said. “It’s relatively easier to cure younger patients.”

Furthermore, doctors and medical personnel have started to understand the proper method to treat elderly patients, who face a higher chance of death caused by the disease.

“Doctors have started to reduce the death rate among senior citizens as they have begun to understand how to control the virus,” Ahmad said.

He also went on to say that dexamethasone was very helpful in increasing the the recovery rate among patients.

Dexamethasone is a corticosteroid, a class of drug that is commonly used to decrease the immune system’s response against various diseases to reduce swelling and other allergic-type reactions. - The Jakarta Post/Asian News Network

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