COVID-19: Indonesia seeks more oxygen as supplies run out for coronavirus patients amid rising infections

Dozens of coronavirus patients have died at a hospital in Indonesia after its central supply of oxygen ran out.

Parts of the country are struggling with a lack of oxygen as the number of critically ill COVID-19 patients who need it increases.

At least 63 coronavirus patients have died during treatment at Dr Sardjito General Hospital in Yogyakarta city since Saturday.

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Thirty three of them died during the outage of its central liquid oxygen supply even though the hospital switched to using oxygen cylinders during that period, hospital spokesman Banu Hermawan said.

“Their deteriorating condition contributed the most to their deaths,” he added.

The hospital’s central oxygen supply was operational again early on Sunday, after 15 tons of liquid oxygen were delivered. Medical oxygen comes in liquid and compressed forms.

The government is asking oxygen producers to dedicate their full supply to medical needs and will import it if needed, coordinating maritime affairs and investment minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said at a virtual news conference.

It comes after Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikit said the government guaranteed oxygen supply for COVID-19 patients on 26 June.

Yogyakarta governor Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono X said the hospitals needed more oxygen than before because of the increasing number of COVID-19 patients in the province.

“We need more oxygen supply. But it does not mean there is no supply at all,” he said.

Indonesia, the world’s fourth-most populous country, has seen a rapid surge in COVID-19 cases in the last two weeks.

Its health ministry recorded 27,233 new cases with 555 deaths from the virus on Sunday. The country has recorded more than 2,284,000 cases, including 60,582 deaths.

Mr Pandjaitan said the incubation period means the number of people infected will continuously increase through mid-July.

“It can increase again in the future if we cannot be disciplined,” he said.

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