Depok, West Java (ANTARA) - There is no need for people to worry or panic over the new COVID-19 XBB.1.16 or Arcturus sub-variant of Omicron, an epidemiologist from the Faculty of Public Health, University of Indonesia (FKM UI), has said.

"From the serology survey result by the Health Ministry and FKM UI in January 2023, it was found that almost all Indonesian people already have antibodies against COVID-19 from infection and vaccination," Iwan Ariawan said here on Wednesday.

Arcturus, which transmits faster, only causes light symptoms, and its fatality rate is lower compared to previous COVID-19 variants such as Delta, he highlighted.

The analysis also found that vaccinated people, especially the elderly, have a much smaller risk of death.

"The effect of the vaccine is visible; whatever the vaccine (brand) is, the results are more or less the same," he said.

If people take the second booster vaccination, their antibodies will be stronger and their risk of death upon COVID-19 exposure will decrease, he added.

The types of COVID-19 vaccines available in Indonesia can ward off the new sub-variant Arcturus as it has emerged from the Omicron variant.

Vaccines in Indonesia have been shown to be effective against the Omicron variant in preventing severe illness and death.

In addition to vaccination, Ariawan said, the best preventive measure is to implement the health protocols and pay attention to places with a high risk of transmission and any individual at risk of severe illness.

"(The virus) transmission is through droplets, so it is highly recommended to wear a mask in crowded places such as on public transportation or other similar places that have a high risk of transmission. This is to prevent Arcturus and other variants," he explained.

The Arcturus sub-variant has been detected in India and has triggered a spike in COVID-19 cases in the country. It has also spread to the United States, Singapore, and Brunei Darussalam.

The sub-variant has not been detected in Indonesia as yet, but people must implement the health protocols, the Health Ministry said.

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Translator: Feru L, Kenzu
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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