Jakarta (ANTARA) - Several state-owned companies assist the government to cope with a COVID-19 surge that has triggered a drastic increase in demand for medical oxygen by distributing 27 ISO tank containers to hospitals.

"On Saturday, we received six more ISO tanks from Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, bringing the total number of tank containers to 27," State-Owned Enterprises Minister Erick Thohir said.

The six ISO tanks of medical oxygen would directly be distributed to hospitals in dire need of oxygen in Central Java and Yogyakarta Provinces, he was quoted by ANTARA saying on his Instagram account on Sunday.

Thohir has instructed state-owned enterprises, including Pertamina and state fertilizer holding company PT Pupuk Indonesia, to support the government's fight against coronavirus by converting their tank trucks for transportation of medical oxygen.

Meanwhile, Logistics and Infrastructure Director at state oil and gas company PT Pertamina Mulyono was quoted from Thohir's Instagram account as saying that the 27 tank containers could carry 540 tonnes of medical oxygen per day.

"The capacity of each ISO tank is 20 tonnes so that 27 tank containers may carry 540 tonnes," he said, adding that the health ministry revealed that Indonesia needs some 800 tonnes of oxygen for medical purposes per day.

Over the past few weeks, Indonesia has been facing a severe second wave of COVID-19 amid growing threats of more transmissible Delta variant.

Data of the ministries of health and industry pointed to a fivefold increase in the demand for medical oxygen cylinders amid the exponential rise in COVID-19 cases.

Amid this alarming situation, the government has requested to convert all supplies of oxygen to fulfill medical requirements as the country battles a major spike in COVID-19 cases.

Maritime Affairs and Investment Coordinating Minister Luhut B. Pandjaitan said on July 5 that the availability of medical oxygen cylinders matters and must be addressed immediately.

The COVID-19 pandemic initially struck the Chinese city of Wuhan in 2019 and subsequently spread across the globe, including to countries in the Asia-Pacific region.

The Indonesian government announced the country's first confirmed cases on March 2, 2020.

Since then, the central and regional governments have striven incessantly to flatten the nation's coronavirus curve by applying healthcare protocols and public activity restrictions.

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Translator: Aji C, Rahmad Nasution
Editor: Sri Haryati
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