Indonesia reports first cases of Indian Covid-19 variant

JAKARTA Indonesia has recorded its first cases of a highly infectious Covid-19 variant first detected in India, the health minister said yesterday, as the authorities implored people not to travel to their home towns for the end of Ramadan.

Indonesia, which has been trying to contain one of the worst Covid-19 outbreaks in Asia, stopped issuing visas last month for foreigners who had been in India the previous 14 days.

The two cases of the Indian variant known as B1617 were found in Jakarta.

"We need to contain these cases while there are still only a few of them," Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said at a virtual conference.

The variant has now reached at least 17 countries including Britain, Switzerland and Iran, prompting some governments to close their borders to people travelling from India.

The authorities in Indonesia, which is the world's largest Muslim-majority country, have banned the traditional mass exodus where people visit relatives for the Hari Raya festival for a second year to curb Covid-19 transmission..

"Do not return to your home town. Do not go on holiday in your home town. Be patient," chief of Indonesia's Covid-19 task force Doni Monardo told the same news conference. - REUTERS