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Wednesday, September 2, 2020

September 02, 2020
An immigration officer is tested for Covid-19 during a mass testing at the immigration headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia

A mutated coronavirus strain which is said to be 10 times more infectious has been found in Indonesia as cases in the country surge.

Indonesia reported 2,858 new infections on Sunday, below the previous day's record of 3,308 but above the past month's daily average, data by the health ministry showed.

The D614G mutation of the virus - which has been described as 'infectious but milder' - has been found in genome sequencing data from samples collected by the institute, deputy director Herawati Sudoyo said,

Sudoyo added that more study is required to determined whether that was behind the recent rise in cases.

Indonesia's total number of cases is currently 172,052, with 4,343 Covid-19 fatalities.

The D614G strain, which the World Health Organization said was identified in February and has been circulating in Europe and the Americas, has also been found in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia.

Malaysia's director-general of health Noor Hisham Abdullah said the D614G strain detected there was 10 times more infectious.

Syahrizal Syarif, an epidemiologist with the University of Indonesia, warned they must remain vigilant, as his modelling suggests the country may see its caseload rise to 500,000 by the end of the year.

'The situation is serious... Local transmission currently is out of control,' Syarif said, adding that the number of infections found daily could have been much higher if laboratories were able to process more specimens in a day.

The capital Jakarta on Sunday saw a record daily increase of more than 1,000 cases, which the city government linked to a higher mobility rate during a mid-August independence celebration.

'There needs to be an awareness and a collective effort, be it from the government or the people, in addressing the rising number of cases,' Dwi Oktavia, an official at the Jakarta health agency, said, urging people to stay at home and wear a face mask when they must go out.

Paul Tambyah, senior consultant at the National University of Singapore and president-elect of the International Society of Infectious Diseases, said evidence suggests the rapid increase of the D614G mutation in some parts of the world has coincided with a drop in death rates.


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