World

Mutated coronavirus strain found in Indonesia as cases jump

JAKARTA: A more infectious mutation of the coronavirus has been found in Indonesia, the Jakarta-based Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology said yesterday, as the South-east Asian country's caseload surges.

Indonesia reported 2,858 new infections yesterday, below the previous day's record 3,308 but above the past month's daily average.

Its total number of cases was 172,053, with 7,343 Covid-19 fatalities.

The "infectious but milder" D614G mutation of the virus has been found in genome sequencing data from samples collected by the institute, deputy director Herawati Sudoyo told Reuters, adding that more study is required to determine whether it was behind the recent rise in cases.

STRAIN FOUND HERE

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

Epidemiologist Syahrizal Syarif, with the University of Indonesia, warned that Indonesians 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," he 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 yesterday 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," Mr Dwi Oktavia, an official at the Jakarta Health Agency, said in a statement, urging people to stay home and wear a mask when they must go out.

Meanwhile, Malaysia recorded 17 new cases yesterday, bringing the total number of infections to 9,334 cases.

Out of the 17 new cases, 15 were imported involving 11 Malaysians and four non-Malaysians.

There has been one more Covid-19 death, bringing the death toll to 126. - REUTERS, THE STAR

WORLD