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Medan on high alert after likely Omicron variant case detected

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Residents undergo a swab test at the Genomik Solidaritas Indonesia (GSI) Laboratory in Cilandak, South Jakarta. AFP/FILED

Medan on high alert after likely Omicron variant case detected

The Medan authorities in Indonesia is on high alert after it detected a probable case of the highly transmissible Covid-19 Omicron variant, linked to a man from the UK who was part of an international airline cargo crew that transited in the North Sumatran city.

The 60-year-old foreigner, identified as JIA, is currently under isolation in Royal Prima Hospital in Medan.

Medan mayor Bobby Nasution said JIA was doing relatively well, explaining that he was an asymptomatic patient. Bobby said the virus was detected after JIA took a Covid-19 test as part of the requirements for airline crew to depart from Kualanamu International Airport in Medan.

“He is part of an airline cargo crew that flew from the UK to Belgium, and from Belgium to Singapore. As his polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test result had expired, he needed to be tested before leaving Indonesia. His test came back positive,” said Bobby after visiting JIA in Royal Prima Medan hospital on Wednesday.

Bobby said the city administration was currently waiting on the whole genome sequencing result from the Health Ministry’s Health Research and Development Agency (Balitbangkes) to determine the Covid-19 variant that had infected the foreigner.

Bobby, however, said he did not rule out the possibility that JIA was infected with Omicron, considering the patient had a travel history of being in other countries where the contagious variant was widespread.

The mayor urged Medan residents to remain calm as authorities conducted contact tracing from the confirmed case. As part of contact tracing efforts, Bobby said the Medan administration had contacted officials from the Deli Serdang regency, considering that the airline crew initially stayed in a hotel in the regency.

“The contact tracing [from the case] is limited to other airline crews. We have coordinated with Deli Serdang [regency officials] to conduct contact tracing there,” said Bobby.



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