A coronavirus disaster is unfolding in Indonesia, where the “death curve” is outpacing the rate of new cases, suggesting the true number of infections is tens of thousands more than official figures suggest.
Modelling by Indonesian researchers suggests half the nation’s 275 million people could be infected in the next few months.
That’s bad news for the Indonesian resort island of Bali, where thousands of tourists remain stranded due to international travel restrictions.
They include Australian, British, American, and Indian nationals as well as more than 1000 Chinese visitors who extended their visas in the wake of the Wuhan outbreak.
Health officials confirmed more than 100 new cases and seven deaths on Tuesday — the biggest daily increase to date — raising the total number of cases to 686 and death toll to 55.
While the numbers may seem low, the ratio of deaths to confirmed cases gives Indonesia a coronavirus fatality rate of more than 9 per cent — the highest in the world.
Former Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd responded to the horror new data with a tweet warning the situation could have serious consequences for Australia.
“Our friend and neighbour Indonesia, population 275 million, (is) now on the cusp of a full blown coronavirus disaster,” Mr Rudd tweeted.
“This has grave national security implications for both Jakarta and Canberra. This will require solidarity and deeply skilled diplomacy ahead.”
Modelling by the Centre for Mathematical Modelling of Infectious Diseases (CMMID) in London revealed Indonesia’s ratio of death to confirmed cases suggests tens of thousands — possibly even 250,000 — more undetected infections, according to the ABC.
Indonesia confirmed its first cases of the deadly COVID-19 pneumonia, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, on March 2.
Since then, it has carried out less the 2000 COVID-19 tests on a population of more than 270 million. Testing is expected to ramp up over the coming days following the arrival of 150,000 kits sent by the Chinese government this morning.
That will likely see confirmed cases surge, bringing the death rate down.
Bali, which receives about five million tourists from around the world, including Wuhan, each year, has reported only four confirmed cases, including one deaths — British tourist Kimberley Finlayson, 53.
Local outlet News Detik reported a 73-year-old foreigner who died in a motorcycle accident last week returned a positive result after his body was swabbed for the coronavirus. It is not clear if his death has been included in the official coronavirus toll.
The other three infections involve a French national; a Balinese who returned from Italy and a Balinese who recently visited Jakarta.