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Indonesia finds 1st omicron case in Jakarta hospital employee

Person had no history of overseas travel; 5 more suspected cases being probed

Indonesia reported its first case of the omicron variant of COVID-19 on Dec. 16. The health minister said so far there has been no community transmission.   © Reuters

JAKARTA (Reuters) -- Indonesia has identified its first case of the Omicron coronavirus variant, the country's health minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said on Thursday.

The variant was detected on Wednesday evening in an employee at the Wisma Atlet hospital in Jakarta, who had no history of overseas travel.

The health minister said so far there was no community transmission, but there were five more suspected omicron cases, including two Indonesians who had recently returned from the United States and from Britain, and three Chinese nationals currently in quarantine in Manado, North Sulawesi.

The government is waiting for genomic sequencing to determine those cases.

The Omicron variant, first detected in South Africa and Hong Kong last month, has now been reported by more than 70 countries, according to the World Health Organization (WHO), including in neighbouring Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

Preliminary evidence indicates that COVID-19 vaccines may be less effective against infection and transmission linked to the variant, which also carries a higher risk of reinfection, the WHO said.

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