Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Health Ministry has intensified whole-genome sequencing (WGS) to check the presence of BA.4 and BA.5 Omicron subvariants in 1,242 patients confirmed positive for COVID-19 nationally as of June 15, 2022.

“Currently, the Ministry of Health is still collecting reports on WGS research results from five provinces that are experiencing an upward trend in cases," Health Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Syahril said at a dialogue entitled “Beware, Omicron is back in Indonesia,” which was broadcast online from Jakarta on Thursday.

He informed that as of June 14, the total number of BA.4 and BA.5 cases identified in Indonesia has reached 20, consisting of two BA.4 cases and 18 BA.5 cases, with all patients declared as recovered.

The WGS was conducted to provide inputs to the relevant authorities for making policies for handling the increase in cases based on scientific data, Syahril said.

He reminded the public to remain calm amid the increase in COVID-19 cases in Indonesia due to the emergence of the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants.

"The increase and decline in cases is a part of the pandemic," Syahril said.

Indonesia has recorded an uptick in COVID-19 cases after the Eid al-Fitr holiday. Since June 7, positive cases of COVID-19 have remained above 500 on a daily basis.

Related news: Virus variants, health protocol easing increase COVID-19 cases

However, Syahril said he is optimistic that the government will be able to control the situation to prevent a spike in cases like during the Omicron and Delta waves.

The positivity rate of the new variant is still below the World Health Organization (WHO) standard, which is 5 percent, he added.

"The WHO standard is below five percent. We are still at 2.15 percent for the positivity rate. Amid the increasing cases, the hospitality rate is still low," he added.

Given the low mortality rate, the BA.4 and BA.5 subvariants have low severity compared to the Omicron and Delta variants, Syahril said.

"Those who are infected can conduct self-isolation to reduce hospitalization number, except for those with comorbidities to control their comorbidities," he added.

The Ministry of Health has issued a circular asking all health offices and hospitals to remain alert for a spike in BA.4 and BA.5 cases, he said. The circular has instructed local government officials to prepare all resources to provide health services to the community.

"With two years of experience in handling the pandemic, hospitals have better readiness, starting from human resources, infrastructure, medical equipment, the system, and the budget as well," he added.

Related news: All 20 patients infected with BA.4, BA.5 subvariants recovered

Translator: Andi Firdaus, Resinta S
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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