Indonesia’s COVID-19 mortality rate the second highest in ASEAN – here’s why

Indonesia’s COVID-19 mortality rate the second highest in ASEAN – here’s why

As of Wednesday morning (15 July), Indonesia recorded 3,710 deaths due to COVID-19, meaning that the death rate for the country is 14 deaths per one million population.

Such a figure shows that Indonesia stands as the country with the second-highest mortality rate due to the virus, just below the Philippines, which recorded 15 deaths per one million population.

Indonesia saw the highest number of COVID-19-related deaths on Wednesday afternoon at 87, the highest in a single day. The previous highest number of daily deaths recorded was 82 on 5 July.

Less than ten days after the first two COVID-19 cases were diagnosed in Indonesia, the country’s mortality rate stood at between eight and nine per cent.

Patients’ underlying illnesses contribute to the high mortality rates

Mr Pandu Riono, an epidemiologist at the University of Indonesia, elaborated several factors that led to the spike in the country’s COVID-19 mortality rate including patients’ underlying diseases such as diabetes and the age factor.

“Many Indonesians are not fit enough; that’s why they are prone to COVID-19 infection. Many people here also do not treat their lungs, as most of them are smokers,” said Mr Pandu, as reported by RMOL.

He was referring to the World Health Organization (WHO) data that Indonesia has the world highest percentage of male smokers – at 75 per cent. Based on the data, he believes that many Indonesians have diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and hypertension.

According to the official data released on 3 June, the mortality rate due to a single underlying disease reached 26.34 per cent, while about 50 per cent died with multiple underlying conditions and only 7.31 per cent died purely from COVID-19.

This was cited by epidemiologist and spokesperson for COVID-19 mitigation at UNS Hospital Solo, Tonang Dwi Ardyanto, in an article by Kompas.

Elderly and toddlers are the most vulnerable

The mortality rate in Indonesia’s elderly population (people over 60 years old) is relatively high as well, recorded at 15.93 per cent based on data from Kawal COVID-19. On top of that, the mortality rate in toddlers under five years old is also alarming with a 2.06 per cent record, Kawal COVID-19 co-founder Elina Ciptadi told Kompas on Monday (13 July).

On 18 May, the Indonesian Pediatric Society (IDAI) released a data which showed that 14 children out 584 between the ages of 0 to 17 died after being tested positive for COVID-19. Additionally, 129 children out of 3,324 who are classified as patient under treatment (PDP) also died.

These are patients who exhibit COVID-19 symptoms but have not been tested positive for the infection. They died before swab test results were out.

As the number of new COVID-19 cases continue to rise, many parents are worried about letting their children go to school. Also, not all regions have made the decision to reopen schools.

For example, the South Tangerang City Administration decided not to open schools in the area until the region is declared a green-zone or COVID-19-safe. Transitional large-scale social restriction (PSBB transisi) in Greater Tangerang – which includes Tangerang City, South Tangerang, and Tangerang Regency – has been extended until 26 July.

Ventilators’ scarcity

Another factor contributing to Indonesia high COVID-19 mortality rate is the scarcity of respiratory ventilators, which have become the hottest commodities during the pandemic.

Under normal circumstances, the price of a ventilator is around IDR100-150 million (SGD 14,268.46). However, the prices have likely skyrocket due to the high demand as a result of the pandemic.

Essentially, a ventilator is a machine used to help people to breathe when they have trouble doing so on their own. Patients under critical condition may need a ventilator to support their breathing. Given that COVID-19 in a respiratory disease, ventilators are crucial to treat critical patients.

Unfortunately, not all hospitals are prepared with ventilators for COVID-19 patients. Administration staff at one of the private hospitals in Depok, West Java admitted that the hospital is not ready yet to treat COVID-19 patients due to this ventilator problem.

“Honestly speaking, we are not ready to be assigned to treat COVID-19 patients. We receive people and can test them with COVID-19 similar symptoms. Still, in case they are COVID-19 positive, we will take them to some of the designated hospitals for COVID-19 as the number of ventilators in our ICUs are not enough to cope with the spike in the number of COVID-19,” he told TOC a few months ago.

Indonesia’s universities, government institutions, and private companies have started manufacturing their own ventilators locally, trying to reduce dependence on imports.

According to the Minister of Research and Technology Bambang Brodjonegoro, five ventilators have entered mass production and have been distributed to hospitals across the archipelago.

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