Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Ministry of Health is monitoring the latest Omicron sub-variant BN.1, which has been detected in Indonesia ahead of the Christmas and New Year holiday season.

"The Health Minister always says that a new variant causes an increase in cases. We have passed the XBB and BQ.1 waves, but we have noticed, there is a new sub-variant called BN.1," Head of the ministry’s communication and public service bureau Siti Nadia Tarmizi said here on Thursday.

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The BN.1 sub-variant has been added to the list of coronavirus variants released by the United States Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as it already accounts for four percent of cases in the country.

Apart from the United States, BN.1 has been detected in more than 30 other countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, India, and Austria.

Waves of infections caused by new COVID-19 variants generally last for an average of three months, and once they peak, the number of cases plummet, Tarmizi said.

The Health Ministry is increasing surveillance efforts to track BN.1 cases by testing the genomics of infected patients to identify specific patterns.

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"I still do not know the exact number of BN.1 cases in Indonesia, but for sure, the case has been found in Indonesia," Tarmizi said.

Meanwhile, the Home Affairs Ministry has extended the implementation of public activity restrictions (PPKM) to control COVID-19 transmission.

To anticipate the risk of a COVID-19 spike ahead of the holiday season, the government has implemented Ministerial Instruction No. 50 of 2022 concerning PPKM extension in Java and Bali islands and Ministerial Instruction No. 51 of 2022 concerning PPKM extension outside Java and Bali. They will remain in effect from December 6, 2022, to January 9, 2023.

The policy will be evaluated every two weeks.

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Translator: Andi F, Kenzu
Editor: Fardah Assegaf
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