Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Health Ministry has urged the public to remain cautious of the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants of COVID-19 given that the pandemic is still ongoing.

"Even though the subvariance is of low severity, the symptoms are mild, or there may be no symptoms, (we must be vigilant) because we are still in a pandemic period," spokesperson for the ministry, Syahril, said at an event entitled “Development of the Omicron BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants in Indonesia,” accessed online here on Monday.

There have been no significant symptoms or spikes in the 23 countries that have detected the BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants, as was noted when the Delta and Omicron variants emerged, he noted.

The coronavirus could continue to mutate, so discipline in following the health protocols and complete community vaccination must continuously be pushed, he added.

"This virus mutates continuously, starting from the Alpha, Delta, to Omicron variants. This mutation is a natural part of a living being, so (to counter that) we must increase our immunity, then improve (our adherence to the) health protocols," he said.

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The two subvariants could also reduce the efficacy of monoclonal antibody treatment and evade the immunity acquired by a person, either through vaccination or natural immunity, be added.

"What we may need to be aware of is immune escape, meaning that it (a subvariant) avoiding someone's immunity," he explained.

Thus, people must still follow the health protocols as there are BA.4 and BA.5 patients in Indonesia who have received the complete vaccination dose, he added.

The public must not be concerned about the COVID-19 variant because the health protocols and control are the same as usual, he informed.

"Once again, we must not be careless, we must be careful, be cautious, even if the symptoms are not too severe. But when it comes to people who are at high risk, (such as) the elderly, (they) must be careful. So, basically, the health protocols, one of which is wearing a mask, it must be a culture of healthy living," he added.

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Translator: Zubi Mahrofi, Mecca Yumna
Editor: Suharto
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