The Health Ministry reported the first two cases of a more transmissible variant of Covid-19 that was originally discovered in the United Kingdom, exactly one year after Indonesia’s first local cases were discovered – making the country’s battle with the pandemic more challenging and possibly necessitating a faster vaccine rollout.
Deputy Health Minister Dante Saksono Harbuwono said on Tuesday that he had received on Monday evening a report on the detection of two cases of the British variant, known as B117.
Dante said that, with the detection of the new variant, Indonesia would need to improve its handling of the outbreak, accelerate research and expand analytical epidemiology studies.
“This means that we’ll be facing the pandemic with a higher level of difficulty, ” he said. There were no details on where these cases were detected, but national Covid-19 task force spokesman Wiku Adisasmito told The Jakarta Post that an official statement would be issued later.
Citing several studies, British scientists have said it was “likely” the variant was “associated with an increased risk of hospitalisation and death” compared to infection with other non-variants of concern.
The scientists revealed their analysis in a document posted last month on the UK government’s website that has yet to be peer-reviewed. They meant to provide it with rapid evidence during an emergency.
The variant has been reported in at least 101 countries, according to the World Health Organisation.
The WHO, citing various emerging evidence, said the variant was 36% to 75% more transmissible than non-variants of concern. —The Jakarta Post/ANN