Jakarta (ANTARA) - Indonesia's Health Ministry urges people to reactivate the three main health protocols -- wearing mask, washing hands, and maintaining distance -- to anticipate a spike in cases in the country amid the latest coronavirus mutation.

"People should be active in wearing masks again, especially for those who are sick, people who have come in close contact with people who are sick, and when we are in crowds. Do not forget to take care of your health to prevent cases from rising again," spokesperson of the Ministry of Health Mohammad Syahril noted in Jakarta, Friday.

He pointed out that a surge in the number of cases was currently occurring in neighboring countries, such as Singapore. Another country that has also been hit by COVID-19 again is India.

To this end, the Ministry of Health has appealed to the public to wear masks again and lead a healthy life to prevent a potential spike in cases, especially in the elderly and groups that have not received COVID-19 vaccinations.

"Although new cases have decreased to 1,145, from previously 1,242 cases, (the number of) deaths has increased to 13, from previously 12 people," he stated.

Furthermore, the number of active cases as of Thursday (Apr 20) rose to 10,881, from 10,448. Meanwhile, the number of patients treated in the last seven days had increased to 1,617, from the earlier recorded count of 1,573.

"We are obliged to protect the elderly as a group that is vulnerable to infection and hospitalization," he stated.

Syahril, who concurrently serves as president director of RSPI Sulianti Saroso, stated that the increase in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks was triggered by the latest highly transmittable Arcturus or XBB 1.16 subvariant.

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Some of the symptoms of this variant include cases of conjunctivitis or pink eye, especially in children, fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty in breathing, fatigue, muscle or body ache, headache, loss of sense of taste or smell, sore throat, runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and diarrhea.

The Ministry of Health reported that currently, 10 provinces with high confirmed cases included DKI Jakarta, West Java, East Java, and Central Java, with more than 100 cases.

Meanwhile, tens of cases were recorded in Banten, Yogyakarta, Bali, South Sulawesi, and South Sumatra, being entirely dominated by local transmission.

Arcturus has been detected in at least 29 countries, with India ranking first with the highest number of cases, followed by Brunei Darussalam, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and Australia.

“This Arcturus is indeed found in India. If you look at the history of the rise and fall of COVID-19 cases, Indonesia has always followed the pattern that has occurred in India, which is currently experiencing a sharp spike in cases," he stated.

India was reported to have experienced a spike in cases of up to 20 percent in a day, with cases per day on Thursday (Apr 20) reaching over 12,500.

"History also shows that in Indonesia, cases of COVID-19 have increased not because of travel and holidays, but because of new variants. For this reason, people should not be careless, and let us wear masks again," he stated.

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Translator: Andi Firdaus, Cindy Frishanti Octavia
Editor: Yuni Arisandy Sinaga
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