JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com - Indonesians are urged to remain vigilant of the more contagious coronavirus B.1.1.7 which was first identified in the UK and participate in the mass vaccination program to maintain immunity from the Covid-19 transmission.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the new variant of the coronavirus has now spread via local transmission though the number of its transmission cases is still relatively low in Indonesia.
"Of the new variants that have been found in Indonesia, the B.1.1.7 is now included in the variant of concern of the World Health Organization [WHO]. However, in Indonesia, [the number of cases] is still low," Indonesia’s Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin told Antaranews.com Sunday, April 18.
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From what has been observed, the genetic evolution of SARS-CoV-2 in several countries, it appears that the B.1.1.7 variant has more dominant characteristics, Budi said. This is due to the relatively fast rate of transmission.
The highly transmissible UK variant was brought by Indonesian migrant workers from Saudi Arabia. Given the swift spread of the virus, experts said the new variant B.1.1.7 contains mutations that could make it easier for the virus to spread 40 to 70 percent more quickly.
"What worries us is the local transmissions," said Budi.
"Imported transmissions are easier to guard at airports and borders. The public should be more vigilant about the local transmissions," he added.
To date, Indonesia has detected 10 cases of the new variant, with five cases in West Java, two cases in North Sumatra, and one case each in South Sumatra, South Kalimantan, and East Kalimantan.
The detection of the first two cases of B.1.1.7 in the country was announced earlier in March from Karawang regency, West Java based on sampling on February 4 and 7.
(Writer: Rakhmat Nur Hakim, Haryanti Puspa Sari | Editor: Rakhmat Nur Hakim, Icha Rastika)