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|Medical staff transported a COVID-19 patient to a hospital in Jakarta, Indonesia, on July 9 last year. (Photo: XINHUA/VNA)|
Jakarta - Indonesia is confident that it can overcome another wave of COVID-19 infections caused by BA.4 and BA.5 sub-variants of Omicron in the context that most of the people in this country already have high antibodies due to a past illness or have been vaccinated.
The country is ready to handle COVID-19 as a type of endemic disease no matter what new variant emerges, Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said at a press conference.
Referring to the next wave of the pandemic, expected in July, Budi said that he believed the pandemic (if it breaks out) will be milder than the previous wave of transmission due to Delta and Omicron variants.
His confidence stems from the fact that the wave caused by variants BA.4 and BA.5 – first detected in South Africa – peaked at a lower level than the original Omicron wave. Results of a survey in March revealed that 99.2 percent of Indonesian people had COVID antibodies, a 6 percentage point increase from a December survey.
The number of COVID-19 cases in Indonesia is on a downward trend, and the positive test rate is currently just under 5 percent. Meanwhile, the country has also eased most of the pandemic restrictions.
The official expected that the wave of infections caused by sub-variants BA.4 and BA.5 will peak in July, but as the level of antibodies in the population remains high, the severity and hospitalisation rates will decrease.
It is forecast that the new wave of infections will wane in August or September and no new variant will emerge, Budi said, adding he expected that this will be a "good signal" to shift from the pandemic to endemic disease. However, he emphasised that Indonesia will continue to accelerate the vaccination campaign against COVID-19 while urging people to show responsibility to themselves by wearing masks, regular testing and isolation if the results turn out positive.