By Pizaro Gozali Idrus
JAKARTA, Indonesia (AA) – Indonesia has seen its first case of the omicron variant of COVID-19, found in a hospital employee in the capital Jakarta, and five other suspected cases of the highly contagious virus are being monitored, the country’s health minister confirmed on Thursday.
The variant was detected Wednesday evening in a Wisma Atlet Hospital employee who had no history of overseas travel, said Budi Gunadi Sadikin.
"But we hope that the public will not panic and will continue to follow health protocols. Wear a mask, and maintain social distance," he told reporters at a news conference.
He added that there has been no community transmission so far, but there are five more suspected omicron cases.
They are two Indonesians who recently returned from the US and UK, respectively, along with three Chinese nationals who are currently in quarantine on Sulawesi Island.
The government is awaiting gene sequencing to determine those cases and has recommended that people not travel abroad.
Since the pandemic began, Indonesia has recorded more than 4.2 million COVID-19 cases, with nearly 144,000 deaths.
At least 208 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered so far.
Around 148 million people have received the first dose, while 104 million have been fully vaccinated.
The figure suggests that around 38% of Indonesia's 270 million people have been fully immunized with two jabs.