Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin. (Antara photo)

Indonesia Suspects Omicron already Becomes Dominant Variant

BY :THE JAKARTA GLOBE

JANUARY 29, 2022

Jakarta. The Indonesian Health Ministry reported on Saturday that the total number of Omicron coronavirus cases has reached 2,613, an increase of 625 cases from the previous day, amid growing concerns that the highly contagious variant is now dominating new infections.

About half of the overall cases, or 1,394, are related to international travels, said Siti Nadia Tarmizi, the spokeswoman of the ministry.

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Most of the infected travelers have returned from Saudi Arabia, Turkey, the United States, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates, she added.

Indonesia has seen an uptick in new Covid-19 cases during the past five weeks, although it remains unclear the extent of the Omicron impact.

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said earlier this week that the government has limited whole genome sequence (WGS) test capability to determine if the current spike in new cases is caused by the Omicron variant.

There are only 12 laboratories with the WGS capability across the country and a combined capacity of only 2,000 tests per month, he said.

To make things complicated, the results are delivered in five days at the soonest.

“In comparison, we have more than 1,100 laboratories capable of conducting 300,000-500,000 PCR [polymerase chain reaction] tests per day and delivering results within four to six hours,” Budi said.

“We don’t have enough WGS tests to determine the dominant variant.”

But Budi said that by the statistical method, results from WGS laboratories indicated that the Omicron variant may have accounted for 75 percent of recent cases.

“I have a feeling that the majority of cases in Jakarta alone are Omicron,” Budi said.

Indonesia on Friday recorded 9,905 new Covid-19 cases with the capital city contributing 4,558, according to government figures.

The total number of active Covid-19 cases stands at 43,574.

Despite the surging numbers, the daily Covid-19 death toll has rarely reached two figures throughout the month.

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