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Coronavirus

Indonesia's GoTo to set up oxygen supply facility as COVID surges

'Super app' provider teams with gas major and business group to fight shortage

Indonesia is suffering from a lack of hospital beds and oxygen as coronavirus infections tear through the country.    © Reuters

JAKARTA -- GoTo, Indonesia's largest tech company, is leading an effort to create a facility dedicated to providing oxygen to those suffering from COVID-19, as hospitals suffer a supply shortage due to a surge in cases sweeping the country.

Jakarta-based GoTo, Aneka Gas Industri, an Indonesia Stock Exchange-listed industrial gas company, and the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce on Monday jointly announced the initiative. 

Located in East Jakarta, it will "be able to provide an ongoing, uninterrupted oxygen supply for COVID sufferers as the gas will be piped directly from [Aneka Gas Industri's] oxygen production plant located nearby," the companies said in a statement.

They said that it is the first semi-permanent health facility in the country to provide oxygen relief to COVID-19 patients. It will begin accepting them "soon," the companies said.

"To respond to similar oxygen needs in other provinces, we are ready to replicate this initiative at more of our factories across Indonesia at which direct oxygen piping is possible," Rachmat Harsono, president director of Aneka Gas Industri, said in the statement.

The facility "will be accessible" through Halodoc, a local teledoctor service provider. Ride-hailing and "super app" provider Gojek, one half of GoTo, is an investor in the startup.

The initiative comes as Indonesia suffers a shortage of oxygen for use in medical settings amid a surge in COVID-19 cases. Daily new cases have regularly topped 50,000 over the past few days, and Indonesia now leads the world in terms of the seven-day rolling average of daily infections, according to Our World in Data.

The highly transmissible Delta variant has been blamed for the rise.

Local media have reported cases in which a lack of oxygen has led to patients dying, as was experienced in India at the height of its COVID peak earlier this year.

That has prompted the Indonesian government to look for alternative supply sources of the gas, including diverting industrial oxygen to hospitals.

"With the exponential increase in cases due to this Delta variant, oxygen demand has increased five times," said Dante Saksono Harbuwono, deputy health minister, in an online briefing over the weekend. A total of 90% of the country's overall oxygen supply has been diverted for medical use, he said.

"There are still some shortcomings such as for distribution and these will continue to be addressed in collaboration with local governments," he added.

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