by Dames Alexander Sinaga
JAKARTA, June 29 (Xinhua) -- Indonesia has seen an increase in the number of newly-confirmed COVID-19 infections in the past weeks after the emergence of the Omicron sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 in the country.
The Southeast Asian nation initially detected its first cases of the two sublineages on June 10 with more than 1,000 daily cases having been recorded in the past two weeks.
On Wednesday, health authorities confirmed 2,149 new cases with more than 16,000 active cases in the past 24 hours. Active cases mean those people are still considered to be infectious.
Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin recently forecasted that peak cases of Omicron sublineages BA.4 and BA.5 in the country would take place in the second to the third week of July.
He made the prediction after observing South Africa, which first spotted the emergence of the sublineages.
According to Sadikin, the expected peak of the two sub-variants in Indonesia could reach at least 17,400 daily new cases, about 30 percent of the peak daily cases of the primary Omicron variant in February.
BA.4 and BA.5 are more transmissible, but they do not cause higher rates of hospitalization and fatality. The death toll from the coronavirus in Indonesia rose by three to 156,728 on Wednesday, while 1,282 more people recovered during the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of recoveries to 5.91 million, according to the ministry's data.
Minister Sadikin also highlighted that the expected peak of BA.4 and BA.5 would not be likened to the Delta wave phenomenon that devastated Indonesia in July last year with the peak recorded at 51,952 daily cases.
The minister went on to say that the government has not made any changes in the travel rules following the emergence of the sub-variants. The COVID-19 booster shots are still required for domestic travelers.
The ministry, he said, continues to impose existing health protocol standards on the public, accelerate booster vaccinations and conduct its third national serological survey to find out the percentage of people with COVID-19 antibodies.
Health authorities have reported that more than 201.45 million people have received their first dose of vaccines, while over 168.96 million have taken the second dose.
Indonesia started mass COVID-19 vaccinations in January last year after the authorities approved the emergency use of the Chinese Sinovac vaccine, aiming to fully vaccinate 208.26 million people.