UK COVID-19 Variant; Epidemiologist Suggests Strengthening Border Control

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Markus Wisnu Murti

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  • A man transfers saliva to a vial for coroanvirus disease (COVID-19) saliva testing, at a Philippine Red Cross molecular laboratory in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, Philippines, January 25, 2021. The Philippine health ministry said the B.1.1.7 variant had spread among 12 people in Bontoc, a mountainous northern province, with 17 such cases in the country. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

    A man transfers saliva to a vial for coroanvirus disease (COVID-19) saliva testing, at a Philippine Red Cross molecular laboratory in Mandaluyong City, Metro Manila, Philippines, January 25, 2021. The Philippine health ministry said the B.1.1.7 variant had spread among 12 people in Bontoc, a mountainous northern province, with 17 such cases in the country. REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - An epidemiologist from Griffith University, Dicky Budiman, argued the spread of the UK COVID-19 variant known as B117 could not be underestimated. He asked the government to immediately take preventive measures.

    “Strengthening the control of the country’s entrance gate. [The government had] better review it first as a decision basis. Each point has its potential,” said Dicky to Tempo on Friday, March 5.

    According to him, the government needs to evaluate the arrival of people from abroad. This policy must be in accordance with current and future development and potential threats.

    Before arriving in Indonesia, people must undergo a PCR test and quarantine upon arrival. He was concerned that the detection of the coronavirus mutation B117 that required whole genome sequencing was not applied in the country, while in fact, it was necessary to prevent the virus from spreading here.

    “Ideally, [the government] should by now perform whole genome sequencing. Otherwise, increase the quarantine period from currently 5 days to 14 days,” Dicky explained.

    He added that vaccination programs could facilitate the technical efforts. Those having a vaccination certificate could be freed from mandatory quarantine unless they present symptoms, he explained.

    However, Dicky underlined the COVID-19 vaccination program must be in line with the strengthening of the 3T (testing, tracing, treatment) by the government and the public discipline in complying with the 5M (wearing face masks, maintaining distance, washing hands, avoiding crowds, and reducing mobility).

    Read: Health Ministry Detects 2 UK COVID-19 Variant Cases

    EGI ADYATAMA