JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/ANN): Indonesia dispatched medical supplies to India, helping the South Asian country with the third-most Covid-19 deaths in the world to battle a devastating surge in Covid-19 cases that has overwhelmed its healthcare system.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said the aid consisted of 200 oxygen concentrators as India was facing an oxygen shortage for hospitalised patients amid the Covid-19 surge.
“We hope the aid can help India handle the pandemic, as we are following the development of the pandemic situation in India including the urgent need for oxygen, ” Retno told a press conference on Wednesday (May 12).
The aid, she said, was the second package bound for India after 1,400 oxygen cylinders were also dispatched on Monday.
It also served as a way for the Indonesian government to return the favor as India has consistently supplied medicinal raw materials, especially during the demand hike and the disruption in global supply chains in the early pandemic.
To date, India has contributed over 30 per cent of Indonesia’s medicinal raw materials imports, after China with over 60 percent.
On the other hand, India is also believed to hold the key to ending the pandemic sooner as the country is the main producer of the AstraZeneca vaccine.
As of March 22, India had supplied 60.4 million vaccine doses to 76 countries including Indonesia, although shortly after that declared an embargo to meet its domestic demand amid a surge in cases.
“Indonesia is grateful for India's support during this pandemic, now it's time to show our support, ” Retno said.
National Covid-19 task force spokesperson Wiku Adisasmito warned Indonesians to stay vigilant as the country could end up like India, especially after Indonesian authorities said they had successfully kept the number of new cases as low as possible.
Wiku’s concerns were related to the fact that many Indonesians still attempted to return to their hometowns for the Idul Fitri holidays to meet their relatives and families despite the government's mudik (exodus) ban to prevent a hike in new cases after Idul Fitri.
“Conditions in India are very concerning. Hospitals can no longer take new patients, health workers and medical supplies are dwindling, ” Wiku told a press conference on Tuesday.
“We don’t want Covid-19 cases in Indonesia to get worse again. If we do little to prevent further transmission such as continuing to go on mudik, it’s possible that Covid-19 cases could surge again, even as bad as in India.”
Reuters reported that the administration of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi had been widely criticised for allowing religious festivals and political gatherings attended by hundreds of thousands of largely unmasked people.
The Indian variant, known as B.1.617, is said to have exacerbated the situation in India.
Recently, the World Health Organization declared it a variant of concern, meaning it might be more contagious than other kinds of the coronavirus, although its full impact on India’s condition remains unclear.
The variant has been detected in 44 countries, including in Indonesia, according to the WHO.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin on Monday told reporters that the government had so far detected a total of 10 cases related to B.1.617, which are concentrated in South Sumatra and Central Kalimantan.
“Recently, more and more new imported cases in Indonesia are coming from India, ” he said. - The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network