Covid-19 cases decline despite discovery of new subvariant ‘Kraken’

The Health Minister said he was not concerned with the discovery of Kraken considering almost all Indonesians had developed antibodies against Covid-19.

Nina A. Loasana

Nina A. Loasana

The Jakarta Post


A woman (left) reacts while receiving a Pfizer booster vaccine for the COVID-19 in Jakarta, on March 29, 2022.(AFP/Adek Berry)

February 22, 2023

JAKARTA – Indonesia continues to see a declining number of COVID-19 cases in the past few weeks despite the absence of pandemic curbs and the recent discovery of new Omicron subvariant “Kraken” that have caused case surges abroad, including in the United States and the United Kingdom.

The Health Ministry spokesperson Mohammad Syahril said that the government had recorded 133 daily new cases as of Sunday, a 14.9-percent decline compared to the previous week.

“Some people wonder whether the government made the right decision when it revoked the PPKM [public activity restrictions] on Dec. 30 last year, but thank God, two months after all curbs had been lifted, the situation remains under control,” Syahril said in a press conference on Monday.

He said that aside from daily cases, other pandemic indicators also continued to improve. Daily deaths have decreased by 31.2 percent compared to last week, with only two fatalities recorded on Sunday.

Positivity rate also stood at 1.2 percent while national bed-occupancy rate stood at 1.4 percent, indicating that virus transmission and patients who need hospital care remain relatively low.

Syahril also said the new XBB.1.5 subvariant, widely and informally dubbed as Kraken, had not caused an uptick in COVID-19 cases nationwide after the country reported its first cases late last month.

“We have found six cases of the Kraken subvariant so far, with two showing mild symptoms and the rest asymptomatic,” he said.

The first known cases of Kraken were reported in the US late last year.

Health Minister Budi Gundai Sadikin previously said he had not been concerned with the discovery of Kraken in the country, especially considering that almost all Indonesians had developed antibodies against COVID-19.

According to the latest serosurvey conducted by the ministry last month, 99 percent of Indonesians had antibodies against COVOD-19, due to either vaccination or past infections. The figure is 0.5 percent higher than the result of a similar survey the ministry conducted in July of last year.

Despite the outbreak being relatively under control, Syahril still urged the public to remain cautious against the virus.

“Although all COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted, the pandemic is still not over yet. The virus still continues to mutate and the best way to prevent us from getting infected is by implementing health protocols,” he said.

Syahril also advised the public to get vaccinated with the first and second booster dose, as it would give them maximum protection against any COVID-19 subvariants.

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