Friday, July 23, 2021

Indonesia: Raging pandemic offers fertile ground for new variants | Al Jazeera

The speed and scale of the coronavirus outbreak in Indonesia has created a perfect breeding ground for a potential new super-strain that could be even more contagious and deadly than the Delta variant, infectious disease experts from around the world are warning.

Last week Indonesia surpassed India and Brazil to become the country reporting the world’s highest number of daily cases. On Thursday, the archipelago reported more than 49,500 new cases and 1,449 deaths.

“New variants always appear in regions or countries that cannot control outbreaks,” said Dicky Budiman, an Indonesian epidemiologist researching coronavirus variants at Australia’s Griffith University. “The World Health Organization [WHO] says if more than 5 percent of tests come back positive, the outbreak is uncontrollable. In Indonesia, it’s been higher than 10 percent for 16 months at the start of the pandemic. Now it’s higher than 30 percent. So you can imagine how high the possibility is for Indonesia to create a new variant or a super variant of COVID-19.”

Amin Soebandrio, a director at of the Eijkman Institute, a government organisation studying tropical and emerging infectious diseases, says while no new variants have yet surfaced in Indonesia vigilance is crucial.

“With the increasing number of cases, we cannot deny that it’s possible and have to carefully observe to identify new variants as soon as they emerge,” he said.

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