Jakarta, Nov 23 (efe-epa).- Indonesia on Monday reached the grim milestone of recording half a million Covid-19 cases, the highest in Southeast Asia, even as the government hopes to control the pandemic by carrying out a massive vaccination drive among the 270-million inhabitants of the archipelago.
According to health ministry data, 4,442 fresh infections were registered on Monday, taking the total number of cases to 502,010, as Indonesia continues to be the fourth worst affected country in Asia after India, Iran and Iraq.
Indonesia and the Philippines are the only countries that have not been able to flatten the curve of Covid-19 infections in Southeast Asia.
The ministry’s department of communicable disease prevention and control said last week that authorities had now managed to ensure the availability of vaccines for 9.1 million citizens.
The government aims to vaccinate a total of 107 million people or 67 percent of the population – aged between 18-59 years – by the end of 2021.
The older citizens would not be given the antidote until the authorities are sure of the potential risks.
The government would prioritize the vaccine’s access to doctors, nurses, lab employees working on Covid-19 duty and other public officials, such as police and soldiers.
The government expects the vaccine being developed by Chinese pharma company Sinovac to obtain all the necessary certification for emergency use by the end of January, before kicking off the vaccination campaign.
Indonesia has also signed agreements with Chinese firms Sinopharm and CanSino to start administering their vaccines from next month, although no date has been fixed yet and the candidates are yet to be approved by local authorities. Jakarta is also in the process of developing a vaccine of its own. EFE-EPA