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Indonesia exceeds half a million coronavirus cases

Indonesia has the highest number of coronavirus cases in Southeast Asia.

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A woman wears a face mask for curbing the spread of coronavirus outbreak at an empty school in Bali, Indonesia (Firdia Lisnawati/AP)

A woman wears a face mask for curbing the spread of coronavirus outbreak at an empty school in Bali, Indonesia (Firdia Lisnawati/AP)

A woman wears a face mask for curbing the spread of coronavirus outbreak at an empty school in Bali, Indonesia (Firdia Lisnawati/AP)

Indonesia’s confirmed Covid-19 cases breached half a million as the government of the world’s fourth most populous nation scrambled to procure vaccines.

Indonesia’s health ministry announced that new daily infections rose by 4,442 to bring the country’s total to 502,110. This is the highest number in Southeast Asia and second on the continent to India’s 9.1 million confirmed cases.

Indonesia also reported a total of 16,002 deaths from the coronavirus.

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(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

(PA Graphics)

President Joko Widodo told a cabinet meeting that his administration is preparing mass vaccinations. He urged his ministers to ensure the safe and smooth distribution of vaccines across the vast archipelago nation, home to more than 270 million people.

The government is making all-out efforts to secure vaccines through bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

Indonesia’s economy, the largest in Southeast Asia, has fallen into recession for the first time since the Asian financial crisis more than two decades ago. It contracted at a 3.5% annual pace in July-September, its second consecutive quarterly contraction.

The government has yet to decide which Covid-19 vaccine to use.

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Students wearing face masks sit spaced apart during a trial run of a class with Covid-19 protocol at the Nurul Amal Islamic school in Tangerang, Indonesia (Tatan Syuflana/AP)

Students wearing face masks sit spaced apart during a trial run of a class with Covid-19 protocol at the Nurul Amal Islamic school in Tangerang, Indonesia (Tatan Syuflana/AP)

Students wearing face masks sit spaced apart during a trial run of a class with Covid-19 protocol at the Nurul Amal Islamic school in Tangerang, Indonesia (Tatan Syuflana/AP)

Last Thursday, Mr Widodo said: “I’m not saying which brand just yet but, as long as it is on the World Health Organization list, we are going to use it.”

Indonesia is already cooperating with China’s Sinovac in phase 3 clinical trials of its vaccine candidate. Tests have been carried out on 1,620 volunteers in West Java’s Bandung city since August.

The government also looked into partnerships with two other Chinese drug manufacturers Sinopharm and CanSino Biologics.

Penny Lukito, head of Indonesia’s food and drug control agency, estimated that the Sinovac vaccine would be authorised for emergency use by the third or fourth week of January. Authorisation can only be given after the agency evaluates interim results from the third stage clinical trial.

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A shop owner wearing a face shield counts money as she waits for customers in Tangerang, Indonesia (Tatan Syuflana/AP)

A shop owner wearing a face shield counts money as she waits for customers in Tangerang, Indonesia (Tatan Syuflana/AP)

A shop owner wearing a face shield counts money as she waits for customers in Tangerang, Indonesia (Tatan Syuflana/AP)

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The state-owned enterprises ministry said Indonesia aims to vaccinate 107 million people between the ages of 18 and 59 – or about 67% of the population in the age group – by the end of next year.

Health minister Terawan Agus Putranto has said the government will wait to vaccinate older people until research and clinical trials show that a vaccine is safe for them.

The government aims to fund the vaccinations for more than 32 million people, including the poor, health workers, the military and police, civil servants and teachers. The other 204 million will need to buy the vaccines themselves from state-owned companies such as Bio Farma.

Foreign minister Retno Marsudi previously said that Indonesia has secured a deal to receive 20 million to 30 million doses of the potential vaccine by the end of this year.

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