Halijah Naemat, 74, puts away a white flag after she received help from others at her home during an enhanced lockdown, amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Petaling Jaya, Malaysia, 6 July 2021.
COVID-19 and the ongoing impact

Coronavirus in the time of Delta

While Europe and North America experience something like a return to normality with relatively high vaccination provision and take-up rates, the rest of the world is struggling to contain the Delta variant. Qantara takes a look at how countries across the Islamic world are coping

The coronavirus pandemic has killed at least 3,987,613 people since the virus first emerged in December 2019, according to an Agence France Presse compilation of official data at 1000 GMT on 6 July 2021.

Indonesia

Indonesia reported 34,373 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, a record daily rise, taking the total number of confirmed infections to nearly 2.4 million, according to the Health Ministry.

Another 1,040 fatalities, also the highest daily jump ever recorded, brought the virus-related death toll to 62,908.

The world’s fourth most populous nation is struggling with a rapid surge in coronavirus cases, driven by the highly transmissible Delta variant. Hospitals across the islands of Java and Bali have been forced to turn away patients, with some facing oxygen shortages.

With reports of outbreaks in other parts of the archipelago, such as West Papua and West Sumatra, regional leaders have been urged to implement curbs, including measures to ensure offices and malls operate at 25% capacity and for restaurants and malls to close by 5 pm.

On 6 July Indonesia recorded 31,189 new cases and 728 new deaths, the highest numbers since the start of the pandemic. The spike in cases has fuelled a growing sense of anxiety about Indonesia's fragile healthcare system and its capacity to handle an unfolding health crisis.

A nurse assists a patient suffering from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Intensive Care Unit at a hospital in Bogor, Indonesia, 26 January 2021 (photo: Willy Kurniawan/Reuters)
Indonesia struggles in the face of heightened oxygen demand: neighbouring Australia is to provide "immediate health support" worth 12 million dollars, including 1,000 ventilators, 700 oxygen concentrators and 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement. "Australian support will extend rapid testing capacity, maintain existing health services and assist with emergency medical facilities as Indonesia responds to growing case numbers"

Australia is providing "immediate health support" worth 12 million dollars, including 1,000 ventilators, 700 oxygen concentrators and 2.5 million doses of the AstraZeneca vaccine, Foreign Minister Marise Payne said in a statement.

"Australian support will extend rapid testing capacity, maintain existing health services and assist with emergency medical facilities as Indonesia responds to growing case numbers," Payne said.

At least 33 patients died in a hospital in the central Java city of Yogyakarta over the weekend after the facility ran out of oxygen.

Even with record case numbers and deaths, experts said the real figures are likely to be much higher because of low levels of testing and tracing.  (dpa)

India

India on Wednesday reported 43,733 new cases in the last 24 hours, data from health ministry showed, with active cases at 459,920.

India expects to receive 3 million to 4 million doses of the Pfizer and Moderna COVID-19 shots through the COVAX facility by August, two sources said, as it tries to expand inoculations to prevent another surge in infections.

COVAX, led by the GAVI vaccine alliance and the World Health Organization (WHO), could ship the U.S.-made doses to India as early as this month. "It's a donation through COVAX," said the source.

A healthcare worker holds a vial containing doses of COVISHIELD, a coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccine, manufactured by Serum Institute of India, at a vaccination centre, in New Delhi, India on 1 July 2021 (photo: Mayank Makhija/NurPhoto/picture-alliance)
Up the vaccination rate: India has so far administered 358.1 million vaccine doses – the most in the world after China – giving at least one dose to 31% of its estimated adult population of 944 million. Experts have said India needs to administer 10 million doses a day to achieve its aim of immunising all adults by December. It administered about 4 million doses a day in the week to 2 July

India is the world's biggest producer of vaccines overall. It donated or sold more than 66 million doses of COVID-19 shots before a huge rise in infections forced it to divert all domestic output to inoculate its own people from April.

The country has so far administered 358.1 million vaccine doses – the most in the world after China – giving at least one dose to 31% of its estimated adult population of 944 million.

India mainly relies on a licensed version of the AstraZeneca vaccine. Experts have said India needs to administer 10 million doses a day to achieve its aim of immunising all adults by December. It administered about 4 million doses a day in the week to 2 July.

Malaysia

Malaysia has reported more than 785,000 cases of COVID-19, the third-highest tally in Southeast Asia and has been in lockdown since 1 June.

The pandemic has put a particular strain on low-income families, with reports of many forced to ration food.

The #benderaputih (white flag) campaign has gained momentum on social media in a bid to encourage people to help others in distress during a prolonged lockdown in Malaysia.

In response to the white flag campaign, neighbours, businesses, politicians and even celebrities have stepped in to donate.

"It takes a lot of courage (to display the white flag)... Because it's actually telling everyone that you... can't manage," said lawmaker Maria Chin Abdullah. "But I think I take it positively –  it's something that this country actually needs because we can't cover everybody. So it's good that... you indicate that you need help and others will come to you."

 

Middle East and the Gulf

Coronavirus infections have been on the rise in the 22 countries of the eastern Mediterranean region after two months of steady decline because of increased international travel, low protection and limited vaccination, World Health Organization officials said on Wednesday.

The region, which includes the Gulf, North African and Asian countries, has registered over 11 million infections and over 220,000 deaths since last year. Iran has been the worst impacted by the pandemic, followed by Iraq.

Ahmed Al-Mandhari, regional director of the WHO, said another spike is likely in the summer months as countries struggle to keep their borders open and their economies active.

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