Indonesia will extend “level 4” mobility restrictions in several areas of Java and Bali until August 16, but will ease them in other places on those islands where Covid-19 cases have dropped, senior minister Luhut Pandjaitan said on Monday evening. Outside Java and Bali, those restrictions – the strictest in the government’s scale – will be extended until August 23, coordinating minister of economic affairs Airlangga Hartarto said. In Jakarta, there are plans to open malls with 25 per cent of capacity for vaccinated people. The extension of coronavirus restrictions in the world’s largest archipelago comes as health ministry data showed infections have plunged in the capital Jakarta but are surging in some regional areas. Mobility restrictions to stem the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant were enacted on Java and Bali islands in early July, but have since been extended to other areas with high infection rates. Australia’s outbreak worsens; cases spread to Indonesia’s outer islands After the peak of a devastating second wave in Jakarta last month, when some Covid-19 patients had to be treated in hospital car parks and residents scrambled to find oxygen supplies, infections in the capital have dropped sharply. On July 12, Jakarta recorded 14,619 infections, but by August 5 that figure had tumbled to 2,311, while overall bed occupancy rates at the city’s hospitals dropped from 90 to 39 per cent. On Saturday President Joko Widodo signalled that a surge in cases in parts of Sumatra, Kalimantan and Papua may require tighter measures. “When cases are huge, people’s mobility needs to be stemmed,” he said. The spread of the Delta variant, first identified in India, has put regions with weaker health care systems under considerable strain. Red tape hinders Indonesia’s vaccination drive, even as cases surge The occupancy of intensive care beds in Gorontalo, on Sulawesi island, has surpassed 90 per cent, while the level in three regions on Sumatra island was above 80 per cent, according to health ministry data released on Sunday. Meanwhile in East Kalimantan on Borneo island the number of infections has soared from 922 cases in the second week of June to 12,127 in the first week of August, said Padilah Mante Runa, head of its health agency. In West Sumatra, Defriman Djafri, an epidemiologist at Andalas University in Padang, said despite the second-highest level of restrictions the area had seen one of its deadliest Covid-19 months, blaming “a plague of disinformation and hoaxes” about the coronavirus for making the situation worse. South Korea vaccination programme hit by shortages South Korea ’s health minister apologised for Covid-19 vaccine shortages on Monday, saying US drug maker Moderna would deliver less than half its planned shipment this month due to production issues. Suffering a fourth wave of infections, South Korea has posted record numbers of new cases in recent weeks, while its inoculation campaign has been dogged by vaccine shortages and shipment delays. Health Minister Kwon Deok-cheol said Moderna had informed South Korea that it would only be able to deliver less than half the 8.5 million doses it had been due to ship in August. South Korea has a contract to buy 40 million doses from Moderna, and just about 2.4 million have arrived so far, according to the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA). Young South Koreans blamed as Seoul tightens curbs amid virus surge The delays came as South Korea opened vaccine reservations for all adults over 18 years for the first time late on Monday, with vaccinations using Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech products to start on August 26. The reservations will proceed as planned, but it will take six weeks to get a second shot after the first dose, instead of four weeks, KDCA chief Jeong Eun-kyeong said. South Korea was praised for its handling of the virus in the beginning of the pandemic with thorough tracing and testing, but a slow vaccination uptake has overlapped with surge in more transmissible variants. Some 45 per cent of South Korea’s 52 million population have had at least one dose of vaccine, while just 15 per cent have been fully vaccinated as of Sunday midnight. The country aims to immunise over 70 per cent of adults by September as it vaccinates those in the 18-49 age bracket with Moderna or Pfizer/BioNTech’s products. The Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) reported 1,492 new coronavirus cases for Sunday. Total infections stand at 212,448, with 2,125 deaths since the start of the pandemic. Australian PM’s popularity plummets Australia expanded a Covid-19 lockdown to a rural town and the coastal region of Byron Bay on Monday, as fears grew that the virus has spread from Sydney to the northern tip of the country’s most populous state. Tamworth, a farming town 414km (257 miles) northwest of Sydney, and Byron Bay, a tourist spot about 770km north of Sydney, will both enter a seven-day precautionary lockdown, New South Wales Premier Gladys Berejiklian said. They have not recorded cases, but Berejiklian said two infected people had contravened travel bans and travelled there. New South Wales reported 283 locally acquired cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours, up from 262 cases a day earlier. The state has struggled to contain a surge of the highly infectious Delta variant despite a lockdown of Sydney now in its seventh week. Neighbouring Victoria state said it would ease restrictions after reporting 11 new coronavirus cases, the same as the previous day. Melbourne would remain in lockdown – for the sixth time since the pandemic begun – until at least August 12. In Brisbane, capital of Queensland, authorities reported four new local cases on Monday, the first day after the city came out of stay-at-home restrictions. Australia’s outbreak worsens; cases spread to Indonesia’s outer islands Prime Minister Scott Morrison is under fire for a sluggish vaccine roll-out, with only 22 per cent of Australians above 16 fully vaccinated. An opinion poll by the Australian newspaper showed his public approval rating had hit its lowest since the pandemic began. Morrison acknowledged mounting frustrations but urged people to be patient. “I know they’re sick of it, I know they’re angry and I know they want it to stop and for life to get back to where they knew it,” Morrison said. “But there can be no short cuts.” Australia has reported about 36,250 cases and 939 deaths, including a woman in her 90s whose death in Sydney was reported on Monday. Philippine hospitals nearing capacity Nearly a fifth of hospitals in the Philippines are close to full capacity as a surge in Covid-19 infections, driven by the highly contagious Delta variant of the virus, spreads across the Southeast Asian country, the health ministry said on Monday. Coronavirus cases in the Philippines, a country of 110 million, have been growing at a rate of around 8,000 to 10,000 infections a day over recent weeks, above the daily average of 5,700 cases reported last month, according to official data. “It is highly possible the cases will continue to rise even after ECQ,” health ministry spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said, referring to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), the classification used in the capital Manila and its surrounding areas for its strictest form of lockdown. Southeast Asia’s Covid-19 deaths skyrocket as Delta variant engulfs region Of the 1,291 hospitals in the Philippines, 236 have reached “critical levels” of over 85 per cent occupancy because of the rise in cases, she said. Hospitals in the capital region, the epicentre of the current outbreak, were facing a similar situation with 25 of 159 facilities nearing full capacity, she added. The Philippines is aiming to inoculate up to 70 million people this year, and 11 million people have been fully vaccinated so far. The country has recorded 1.65 million Covid-19 cases since the pandemic began, and 29,000 deaths.