Jakarta (ANTARA) - The crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has boosted Indonesia's genome sequencing capability and made the government’s monitoring of the pandemic easier, Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Thursday.

"One of the significant ones is the leap in science and technology in the process of identifying the type or variant of the virus," he said at a press conference on the ministry's performance in 2022 and work programs in 2023 on the same day.

According to him, earlier, the world pinned the spike in COVID-19 cases on high public mobility. However, recently, it has been realized that the main cause has been the emergence of new, more dangerous variants.

The new variants have pushed countries, including Indonesia, to routinely identify their characteristics, differences from previous variants, and patterns of transmission.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Indonesia's capacity to test new variants was still limited, with laboratories that were not operated well, Sadikin noted.

The ministry's data shows that as of December 2020, there were only 16 genome sequencing laboratories in Indonesia. However, their number has grown to 41 as of December 2022.

"We have succeeded in drastically increasing our sequencing capacity from only 140 out of 9 months to above 5 thousand within a month. This is very helpful for Indonesia's pandemic handling strategy because we are able to know what our enemy is and how it spreads," he explained.

The minister said that strengthening genome sequencing is one of the ways for Indonesia to face the pandemic better.

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 January 5, 2023, the nation has recorded 6,722,227 COVID-19 cases, 6,552,823 recoveries, and 160,665 deaths.

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Translator: Hreeloita Dharma, Raka Adji
Editor: Anton Santoso
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