Jakarta (ANTARA) - Health screenings can optimize the protection of older adults and other vulnerable groups against various COVID-19 variants, an epidemiologist from Gadjah Mada University (UGM), Bayu Satria Wiratama, has said.

"Older adults must stay alert. Of course, one of the ways is they must routinely conduct health screenings," he advised during a talk show, which was followed online from here on Friday.

Wiratama said that even though Indonesia is currently one of the countries that have relaxed restrictions for outdoor events, the risk of COVID-19 transmission is still present.

As one of the vulnerable groups, older adults are at high risk of transmission. This is because some of them may have comorbidities or may not have continued their vaccination.

Due to the higher risk of transmission, older adults need to have regular health screenings. The screenings include not only COVID-19 antigen or PCR tests, but also those related to diseases and the drugs that they consume.

The epidemiologist explained that screening is essential so that the COVID-19 symptoms that older adults experience do not turn into severe symptoms.

"If the elderly have a chronic disease, they must be monitored. Do not forget to seek treatment and others. Then, when the elderly do not know their health condition, (they) should not attend (events) in indoor places," he said.

Health screenings allow older adults to be more confident about attending events because they already know their health status.

However, if they have not been tested or do not know their condition, they must not take part in activities in indoor places that are crowded and have poor ventilation, he suggested.

This would increase the risk of transmission even if they wear masks and have received two doses or even the booster dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, he added.

The first case of COVID-19 in Indonesia was confirmed in March 2020. According to data from the COVID-19 Handling Task Force, as of September 2, 2022, the nation has recorded 6,366,518 COVID-19 cases, 6,165,328 recoveries, and 157,608 deaths.

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Translator: Hreeloita Dharma, Raka Adji
Editor: Rahmad Nasution
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