President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo urged the public to remain calm and disciplined in following health protocols after Indonesia discovered its first confirmed Covid-19 case caused by the emerging variant of Omicron.
The country has been on high alert for the past few weeks as the new variant is spreading around the world at an unprecedented rate.
The science remains inconclusive, but early data suggests the variant is more transmissible than Delta, which wreaked havoc and overloaded the national health system in Indonesia in July.
Jokowi said the arrival of the Omicron variant in the country was “inevitable” and urged the public to work together to slow and contain the spread as much as possible.
“Now that we have discovered Omicron, we should do our best to prevent it from spreading widely in Indonesia. We don’t want community broadcasts to take place, ”said Jokowi on Thursday.
“It is important to be vigilant, but we shouldn’t panic because Omicron has not shown any properties that could harm patients, especially those who are not vaccinated.”
Jokowi advised people to get vaccinated as soon as possible and not to travel abroad for a while.
He also urged local authorities to improve their testing and traceability capabilities.
The first Omicron infection was found in a cleaning service employee in the former sports village in Jakarta, which was converted into a Covid-19 quarantine facility and an emergency hospital in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak last year.
The health authorities took nasal swabs from all cleaning service employees in the facility on December 8 as part of the regular Covid-19 screening and found three positive results, according to Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin.
“The authorities then sent the samples to a Department of Health lab for the entire genome to be sequenced, and on Wednesday we found that one of them had the Omicron variant,” Budi said on Thursday.
The patient, identified only as N, had no history of traveling overseas, but Budi said it was likely he was exposed to the virus by coming into contact with international travelers with Covid-19 who were isolating themselves in the athletes’ village.
It remained unclear whether authorities would suspect the patient who had the virus on N.
Budi said N was asymptomatic and the latest PCR tests had now been negative for Covid-19. – The Jakarta Post / ANN