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Indonesia’s Covid-19 cases top 1m, some hospitals near collapse

Some patients unable to access intensive care units and isolation rooms due to high demand

JAKARTA: Indonesia's Covid-19 cases topped the one million mark yesterday as it launches one of the world's biggest vaccine drives to cut a soaring infection rate.

The country of nearly 270 million has recorded 1,012,350 cases and almost 29,000 deaths. And low testing rates mean the crisis is believed to be much more severe.

Some hospitals are on the brink of collapse as they are overwhelmed with patients in one of Asia's worst-hit nations, health experts warn.

"I think we hit one million cases of Covid-19 a long time ago," said University of Indonesia epidemiologist Pandu Riono.

"We are still climbing a mountain and we don't even know where the peak is. This is a never-ending climb."

There are reports of patients being unable to access intensive care units and isolation rooms due to high demand.

The virus has killed more than 600 doctors, nurses and other medical workers.

"Hospitals are already collapsing," Dr Riono said, adding that the government had "no management, no plan, no priorities, just trial and error".

Reacting to yesterday's grim milestone, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the country was "grieving" those who died.

The one million figure shows we "need to keep working harder and harder so we don't waste the sacrifices made by our fellow health workers", he said.

Meanwhile, the Philippines confirmed domestic transmission of the highly contagious British coronavirus variant.

"Right now, we have local transmission where this individual or these cases with the variant have already infected their community, their family," Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said yesterday.

The Philippine Health Ministry said the B117 variant had spread among 12 people in Bontoc, a mountainous northern province, with 17 such cases in the country.

Its first case of the British variant was found in a Filipino who had travelled from the United Arab Emirates.

The Philippines has seen nearly 515,000 cases and more than 10,200 deaths.

Malaysia yesterday recorded 3,585 cases, bringing the total to 190,434. There were 11 deaths, taking the toll to 700. The country said it has signed deals to purchase 18.4 million doses of vaccines produced by Russia's Gamaleya Research Institute and China's Sinovac. - AFP, REUTERS

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