MANILA (UPDATE) - Indonesia's COVID-19 surge is "alarming," a former journalist said Thursday, as the country reported record daily COVID-19 infections of more than 54,000.
"Everyday, we hear the news reports the death of people. Now, almost once in a while, one of our neighbors are carried [to the hospital]. Then, there is news that our relative was administered to the hospital for getting COVID. So, it's really, really alarming for Indonesian right now," Kurniawan Hari, former business editor of The Jakarta Post, told ANC.
The Southeast Asian nation is fighting a devastating new virus outbreak fueled by the highly contagious Delta variant, which has choked its health-care system.
Government figures on Wednesday also showed 991 new deaths, bringing the total number to 69,210. Indonesia has the highest number of coronavirus cases and deaths from COVID-19 in Southeast Asia.
Despite new containment measures, Hari said transmission of COVID-19 continued outside capital Jakarta.
"This is very alarming because COVID is spreading from city centers to the regions," he said.
The Delta variant, first identified in India, has been found in 11 areas outside of the densely populated Java island, the health ministry had said.
Cases and bed occupancy rates have risen in parts of Sumatra, Papua and Kalimantan, or Indonesian Borneo, and far-flung regions like West Papua were especially concerning, the ministry added.
Hari also criticized the country's slow vaccination rollout amid the presence of more transmissible coronavirus variant.
"I think the vaccination is slow to cover the population," he said.
Indonesia, which has a population of 270 million, has administered at least 51,433,567 doses of COVID-19 vaccines so far.
Dr. Bona Tambunan, director of Siloam Hospital in Indonesia, said hospitals there were packed with COVID-19 patients amid surging infections.
"Hospitals are packed with COVID-19 patients. I mean, in my hospital alone, our bed occupancy rates reached over 90 percent daily," he told "Rundown".
"I've seen the same case with hospitals all around Indonesia. Patients are having difficulty seeking ICU beds. We've seen patients lining up in emergency departments," he added.
Tambunan, who is based in South Sumatra, said COVID-19 cases were also rising in other regions. He noted that more than 10,000 cases from Wednesday's daily tally came from Jakarta alone.
"We started with only 100 new cases a day but yesterday, it was a total of 700 new cases," he said. "So, we're seeing the trend in Jakarta is happening the same way in all other regions outside Java island."
-- With a report from Reuters