Indonesia finds 2 cases of Indian Covid-19 variant in Jakarta

An elementary school student wearing a face mask has her temperature checked before attending a classroom session, as schools reopen amid the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) pandemic in Bekasi, on the outskirts of Jakarta, March 24, 2021.
PHOTO: Reuters

JAKARTA - Indonesia has recorded two cases of a highly infectious Covid-19 variant first identified in India in the capital Jakarta, the country's health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Monday (May 3).

"There were two new mutations that entered. One from India, with two incidents in Jakarta, and one from South Africa in Bali," Mr Budi told a virtual conference. Another official confirmed the two cases were the B1617 variant, first detected in India.

Indonesia last week stopped issuing visas for foreigners who had been in India in the previous 14 days.

Malaysia similarly detected its first case on Sunday, days after imposing a ban on flights from India.

India is battling a devastating second wave of the coronavirus that has overwhelmed hospitals, morgues and crematoriums.

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The World Health Organisation has described it as a "variant of interest", suggesting it may have mutations that would make the virus more transmissible, cause more severe disease or evade vaccine immunity.

The WHO has not declared the Indian variant a "variant of concern", as it has done for variants first detected in Britain, Brazil and South Africa.

But it has also said that its early modelling, based on genome sequencing, suggested that B1617 had a higher growth rate than other variants circulating in India.