Mutated Coronavirus Strain Found in Indonesia as COVID-19 Cases Rise

The deadly virus outbreak has created a major stir around the world in recent times infecting people in more than 170 countries

A more dangerous mutation of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 was found in Indonesia, the Jakarta-based Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology stated on Sunday as the South Adian nation's caseload rises.

Indonesia confirmed 2,858 new cases of the deadly virus on Sunday, data by the health ministry showed, which is below the previous day's number of 3,308 but more than the past month's daily average. The total number of cases was 172,053 with 7,343 deaths due to the deadly virus.

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 that was behind the recent rise in cases.

COVID-19 in Indonesia

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The 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 neighboring Singapore and Malaysia. Syahrizal Syarif, an epidemiologist with the University of Indonesia, warned Indonesians must remain vigilant, as his modeling 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 in a statement, urging people to stay at home and wear a face mask when they must go out.

(With agency inputs)

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