Jakarta (ANTARA) - The Ministry of Health has detected two cases of Omicron XBB.1.16 or Arcturus variant of COVID-19 in Indonesia based on the results of genome sequencing carried out in late March this year.

"So far, there are two cases (of Arcturus) that have been found," Health Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Syahril confirmed in Jakarta on Thursday.

However, he did not provide further details regarding the domicile and the history of the two patients.

When contacted separately, head of the ministry's communication and public services bureau, Siti Nadia Tarmizi, said that the two Arcturus patients, whose infections were detected based on genome sequencing conducted in the fourth week of March 2023, experienced mild symptoms.

"All the patients experienced mild symptoms," she noted.

Meanwhile, an internal medicine specialist with hematology-oncology subspecialties, Prof. Zubairi Djoerban, said Arcturus was first identified in India in January 2023. The variant has become the trigger for a spike in cases in that country.

"Currently, the cases have been found in Indonesia. Arcturus can survive antibodies (developed from) vaccinations and natural infections," he said.

He further said that currently, Arcturus cases have been identified in around 20 countries, including Indonesia.

Nevertheless, the symptoms experienced by the patients are milder, thus, people must not panic over the presence of the new COVID-19 variant, he noted.

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 April 13, 2023, the nation has recorded a total of 6,754,583 COVID-19 cases, 6,585,768 recoveries, and 161,096 deaths.

The task force data also showed that the number of active cases or people who are still undergoing treatment or isolation in Indonesia stood at 7,719.

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Translator: Andi Firdaus, Raka Adji
Editor: Azis Kurmala
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