Need to remain alert for imported COVID-19 cases: Health Ministry

Need to remain alert for imported COVID-19 cases: Health Ministry

International passengers undergo health screening at Soekarno-Hatta airport. Based on a study by the Research and Development Center, infections in countries located on the Indonesian border are still dominated by the Delta variant. (ANTARA/HO-AP II/pri/rst)

Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia needs to remain alert for COVID-19 spread from travelers entering the country from several bordering countries that are battling an infection surge, an official from the Health Ministry has said.

"In accordance with the weekly COVID-19 report for September 3-9 2021, Indonesia still needs to be aware of cases that have started and are still surging in Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Vietnam, Australia, and Singapore," head of the Center for Health Research and Development of the Health Ministry, Vivi Setiawaty, said on Monday.

Based on a study by the Research and Development Center, infections in countries located on the Indonesian border are still dominated by the Delta variant, while there are no reports regarding the findings of the B.1621 (Mu) variant, he informed.

Meanwhile, at the global level, some countries that are currently experiencing a spike in cases are Israel, Malaysia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Germany, Setiawaty said.

"Of the five countries, Malaysia is the only country that has not reported finding the Mu variant," she added.

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The factors that have contributed to the acceleration of COVID-19 transmission in these countries include joining mass gatherings, traveling with COVID-19 positive people, visiting high-risk areas such as medical facilities, and vague transmission (because of lack of symptoms, limited testing, or infection caused by other respiratory viruses), Setiawaty informed.

"With the continued variety of findings of new variants, the new variant is the one that needs to be prevented and monitored. The spikes in cases are generally always accompanied by an examination of the viral genome from samples of COVID-19 patients," she said.

Apart from Indonesia, the Delta variant is still dominating cases in several countries, such as Germany, Great Britain, the US, Israel, and Malaysia, where the trend in infections is starting to experience a spike, she noted.

According to the Health Ministry's weekly overview, the second-highest variant after Delta in Germany is Lambda with an infection rate of 4 percent, while cases in the United Kingdom, the United States, and Israel are dominated by the Alpha variant, with an infection rate of 0.68 percent, 0.09 percent, and 0.62 percent, respectively.

"Meanwhile, the second-highest variant after Delta in Malaysia is Kappa with 8.11 percent (infection rate)," Setiawaty disclosed.

Although the number reported outside the Delta variant is still relatively small, monitoring new variants reported in other countries will be important to increase vigilance both in prevention and improvement of Whole Genome Sequencing and the development of science and technology related to SARS CoV-2, she added.

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