Children are contracting COVID-19 faster than ever before in Indonesia
The Delta strain of COVID-19 is rapidly spreading across Indonesia and with as many as 125,000 cases per week being recorded in June, the country has been forced into stricter lockdowns. Alarmingly, children are contracting the virus at higher rates than ever before.
In August 2021, the total number of children who have been infected with the virus in Indonesia is around 250,000 – accounting for 12.6% of the total cases. Sadly, 676 children have died from the virus, and around half of these were children under the age of five.
The national healthcare system is being flooded with COVID-19 patients and the government has been recruiting volunteers to support frontline healthcare workers. Despite this, hospitals are still overwhelmed and there is a shortage of oxygen. So far, the variant has infected three million and killed almost 90,000 people across the country.
ChildFund Indonesia is working with local partners to raise awareness about the virus and prevention methods, and to distribute hygiene kits to vulnerable children and their families. ChildFund is also advocating the Indonesian Government to prioritise the vaccination of children aged between 12-17.
“When I heard the news about COVID-19 from teachers at school and the community in my neighbourhood, I could feel the fear arise,” said 10-year-old Arya from East Nusa Tenggara, Indonesia. “I am worried that I might get infected by the virus.”
School closures have disrupted the education of children across the country and highlighted the inequalities vulnerable children and young people are already facing. This is particularly true for young girls and children with disabilities.
ChildFund is also distributing study kits to children like Arya so they can continue their education at home, and supporting them to learn a new skill while they are in lockdown. Arya has decided to learn to grow bean sprouts for her family. “I am grateful because everyone at home can enjoy healthy, clean and nutritious bean sprouts,” she says.
ChildFund is also sharing lifesaving health information with rural communities and families like Arya’s to ensure that they can keep themselves safe and healthy through the pandemic.
“I feel grateful when I hear the information from my teacher and the community centre that we can prevent getting the coronavirus by actively washing hands with soap and clean water, eating nutritious food to increase our body’s immune system, reducing gatherings and wearing masks outdoors,” Arya says.
ChildFund is supporting rural schools so that when they reopen, they are equipped with hygiene and sanitation stations, can provide psychosocial support for students affected by the pandemic, and classrooms are safe and healthy learning environments.