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Indonesia records first Omicron community case

Health authorities say mobility restrictions will be increased, especially during the festive season.

Indonesian health authorities have begun conducting contact tracing after detecting the country’s first locally transmitted case of the fast-spreading Omicron coronavirus variant.

The person infected is a 37-year-old male from the city of Medan who had visited a restaurant in the central business district of the capital, Jakarta, earlier this month, health ministry official Siti Nadia Tarmizi told a news conference on Tuesday.

The man had no recent history of overseas travel or contacts with international travellers, Tarmizi said, adding that he was asymptomatic and was in isolation at a Jakarta hospital, after he had initially isolated at home.

“With this one local transmission we will toughen mobility restrictions, especially during the Christmas and New Year’s holidays,” she said, adding that the patient’s wife had tested negative.

Earlier this month, President Joko Widodo urged people in the world’s fourth-most populous country to stick to health protocols after authorities said an employee at an isolation hospital in Jakarta, who had overseas travel history, had tested positive for the variant.

Health authorities say there have been 47 confirmed cases of Omicron in Indonesia, mostly imported cases of the variant, which experts say in initial studies appears to be more contagious but less virulent than previous variants.

Indonesia has suffered one of the worst COVID-19 outbreaks in Asia, with more than 4.2 million confirmed infections and 144,000 related deaths.

But after cases peaked in July due to the spread of the highly transmissible Delta variant, infections have fallen sharply and remained low.

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