Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is more transmissible and likely to go undetected during polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests, a researcher from the National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN) has said.

"Omicron is more contagious, although that statement needs to be proven further," head of BRIN's Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology, Amin Soebandrio Kusumo, told ANTARA here on Friday.

There is a possibility for Omicron to be overlooked in PCR tests because it has several mutations in regions where cases of the variant are spiking, he explained.

Omicron is no different than other variants in terms of clinical symptoms, he said. Furthermore, clinical symptoms that occur in most of the infected patients are not severe, he added.

According to Kusumo, Omicron may not be detected by antibodies, either those developed after vaccination, by survivors, or those given to patients during therapy.

"Those are the four characteristics of Omicron that are worrisome," he said.

Until now, compared to the Delta variant, Omicron has not caused severe or deadly symptoms, he said.

Related news: Omicron spreading faster due to mild symptoms: researcher

However, he affirmed that the Omicron variant is more communicable and its clinical symptoms are minor. Theoretically, the variant can infect all ages.

Because of the mild symptoms, infected people may not feel ill, hence they may go about their daily activities, carrying the virus with them, he said.

"That has become a factor that makes Omicron's transmission so rapid, even country-to-country," Kusumo added.

Earlier, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin had confirmed that a janitor at the Wisma Atlet Emergency Hospital had tested positive for the Omicron variant.

Responding to the detection of the first Omicron case in Indonesia, President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) has asked the public to stay calm.

"So far, the Omicron variant has not shown any severe symptoms, especially in patients who have been vaccinated," Widodo said.

To anticipate the transmission of the Omicron variant, some regions have taken precautionary actions. The Tangerang administration, for instance, has increased surveillance in public places like stations and terminals.

Related news: First Omicron case a wake-up call for society: task force

Translator: Martha S, Kenzu T
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
Copyright © ANTARA 2021