Jakarta (ANTARA) - The highly transmissible Omicron variant could likely trigger a higher increase in COVID-19 infections compared to the spike caused by the Delta strain in 2021, the government has said.

Citing data from various sources, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, said the actual hospitalization rate caused by Omicron variant in several countries, such as the United States and Israel, is a third lower than Delta.

"However, the number of hospitalizations in those countries is much higher because the number of cases in the countries has increased by more than three times compared to (during the) Delta (outbreak)," he noted.

Based on an analysis of the data, the government has estimated that the number of Omicron hospitalizations in Indonesia could be higher compared to the Delta outbreak should the number of daily cases increase more than threefold, or equivalent to 150 thousand cases per day, the minister informed.

"Like last year, we saw almost 56 thousand (cases). The (number of cases) could be triple that if we are not careful. However, until now we still estimate that this figure is unlikely to happen," he said.

Based on various simulations and models that the government has created with experts, the number of cases currently is still far below the three-fold increase, he added.

"We don't need to (get paranoid) but we are still super cautious," Pandjaitan said.

Related news: One Omicron case could infect 10-40 people: Epidemiologist

He reiterated President Joko Widodo's advice to his staff to practice caution following the increase in cases.

According to Pandjaitan, the government is also monitoring the development of confirmed cases on a daily basis. It is also taking some things into account, such as hospital occupancy rates and the number of vaccinations in the regions, he added.

The efforts are being undertaken so that proper countermeasures can be taken immediately in case things take a turn for the worse, he said.

"All the courses of action that have been prepared have, of course, (been made with the) utmost calculations based on field data and inputs from various experts in their fields," Pandjaitan assured.

He also emphasized that the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases as of January 30, 2022 had reached 12,442, which was a fifth of the Delta peak in July last year.

The number of inpatients nationally was still at a non-threatening rate, which was one-tenth of the peak hospitalization rate during the Delta outbreak, he added.

"This estimation we do as a mitigative means in the event of an Omicron outbreak. The Health Ministry has prepared very adequate health facilities, much better than last year," he assured.

Related news: Omicron variant can infect vaccinated people: Health Ministry

Translator: Ade Irma J, Mecca Yumna
Editor: Suharto
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