JAKARTA: The Jakarta Health Agency warned that the number of COVID-19 cases will continue to surge over the next few days after the Arcturus variant hit the country.
Indonesia has reported 10 confirmed cases of the Arcturus variant since the strain was first detected on Mar 23. The 10 cases are all in Jakarta.
The Arcturus – or XBB.1.16 – is a subvariant of the Omicron virus which, according to a study by the University of Tokyo, spreads about 1.17 to 1.27 times more efficiently than the XBB.1 and XBB.1.5 strains.
The variant – along with increased mobility during the Islamic holiday of Idul Fitri – has been blamed for a recent rise in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country.
Over the last few weeks, Indonesia recorded more than 1,000 new cases every day, bringing the total caseload to 6.7 million since the pandemic hit the country in March 2020.
“The trend is still climbing. The peak is predicted to occur next week,” Jakarta Health Agency’s head of the epidemiology and immunisation surveillance division Ngabila Salama said in a statement on Monday (May 1).
She added that the number of daily COVID-19 cases could reach more than 4,000 by next week.
Dr Salama said the spike in the number of COVID-19 cases could be the tip of the iceberg, pointing to the low number of tests carried out and the high positivity rate.
According to government data, nationally there are around 10,000 people who took COVID-19 tests every day over the past one week. Of these, 10 per cent tested positive for the virus.
The health agency official said the spike is affecting the capital city’s hospital bed occupancy rate which currently stands at 16 per cent – double of what it was in early April.