Jakarta (ANTARA) - The number of cases of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants of Omicron in Indonesia reached 20 as of Tuesday, Spokesperson for the Ministry of Health Mohammad Syahril informed.

"As of today, there are 20 cases of Omicron subvariants consisting of two cases of BA.4 and 18 cases of BA.5," he confirmed via text message here on Tuesday.

Thus, the number of cases increased by 12 from the previously reported 8 cases.

The BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants were first detected in Indonesia in four people in May 2022. The Ministry of Health received the results of the genome sequencing study related to this finding on June 9.

Separately, director of the post-graduate program at YARSI University, Prof. Tjandra Yoga Aditama, said the transmission rate of BA.4 and BA.5 in Indonesia is estimated to have increased fivefold in recent days.

According to the latest information from the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) released on Monday (June 13), the BA.4 and BA.5 were first discovered in South Africa in January and February 2022.

BA.4 and BA.5 are part of the Omicron clade (B.1.1.529), he noted. The ECDC upgraded classification of BA.4 and BA.5 from "variants of interest” to “variants of concern (VOC)” on May 12.

"They are expected to be dominant in Europe in the coming weeks," he added.

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Aditama, the former director of infectious diseases of WHO Southeast Asia, said that any potential increase in cases will depend on people's immunity, which is related to vaccination coverage and the timing of previous vaccination.

"Our health workers received the booster more than six months ago," he pointed out.

He affirmed that so far, there has been no scientific evidence to show that the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants cause higher severity than the previous variants. "But we have to be very careful about the increase in hospitalization among those aged over 60 or 65 years," he added.

Related news: Jakarta urged to prevent COVID spike as subvariants emerge

Translator: Andi Firdaus, Raka AdjI
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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