January 7, 2023

JAKARTA, IO – The world is panicking over the new variants of COVID-19 Omicrons XBB from China. Countries in America and Europe remain alert, implementing strict fight protocols from China. 

Several studies state that two of China’s worst COVID-19 Omicron variants, XBB 1.5 and BQ 1.1, have appeared in various world cities, such as New York, London, Paris, Sydney and Singapore. Should Indonesians be worried? 

The United States, Australia, India, Japan, Canada, Malaysia, and Singapore have strictly implemented a negative test for fight passengers two days before arriving as of January 5, 2023. 

The world only concentrated on four COVID-19 variants: Alpha, Beta, Delta, and Gamma, prior to Omicron in November 2021. 

There were only Alpha and Delta variants caused an infection spike globally. But Omicron offshoots have appeared in various regions with their strange worrying mutations. 

Unlike other countries across America and Europe, Indonesia chose not to be bothered by the emergence of new variants. 

The country has admitted that the XBB variant has penetrated Indonesia since October 10, 2022. But, still, Indonesia opted to revoke the community restriction (PPKM) last December 30, 2022. The brave step was taken as the COVID variant counted to no longer endanger people’s lives. 

President Jokowi blatantly visited Tanah Abang trading zone A, Jakarta, last January 2, 2023, without a mask on, showing confidence as COVID-19 has been harmless.

A reckless and dangerous act 

The President’s visit to Tanah Abang was considered reckless and dangerous. The President bore the risk himself, but leaders must not set a bad example for their people. 

When advanced countries resolve to avoid and delay the XBB transmission, Indonesia seems to go in a different direction. 

Indonesia has taken a reckless and dangerous action. Indonesia’s Public Health Policy was designed hastily —not by epidemiologists— by politicians who have close relationships with corporations. Indonesia’s health policy somehow differs from other countries. 

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) rapidly expands national genomic surveillance to monitor trends in circulating new variants, particularly by conducting a Traveler-base Genomic Surveillance (TGS) to detect and classify new virus variants through nose swab sampling at major US international airports and coronavirus testing. 

Indonesia needs a better genomic surveillance 

Through genomic surveillance, scientists track the spread of variants and monitor changes to the genetic code of the COVID variants. The sampling would be anonymous. 

The TGS has been enacted in seven international airports across the United States, covering 500 flights from at least 30 countries, including 290 weekly flights from China and surrounding countries. There have been 80,000 tourists participating in the TGS from November 2021 to December 2022. 

The surveillance quickly expanded into a national and global radar system monitoring the emergence of viruses and bacteria in the United States.

Indonesia does not have mass viral genome surveillance. We only take samples in some private and public health services. There is no such thing as COVID-19 genome surveillance. 

Indonesia is supposed to conduct genome surveillance to prevent the entrance from China contracting the more vicious virus into society. 

Indonesia needs to restrict Chinese migrants from entering the country, especially from the PRC, Hong Kong, and Taiwan. The TGS must be conducted for all migrants and visitors and keep the samples in the genome bank. 

Genome surveillance is a vital thing to do as a preventive measure for future pandemics. The pandemic has caused a rising death toll, slumped the economy and escalated the state’s debts.

The fact is that COVID-19 XBB 1.5 and BQ 1.1 have penetrated Indonesia; therefore, Indonesia must be wary of the spread of the new variants. 

Extra restricted Airport and Seaport Regulations 

Indonesia often relaxes the entry restrictions for Chinese foreign workers, thereby increasing the risk of COVID – 19 new variant transmission. Indonesia must not claim to have a tested and proven COVID handling system. 

Being vigilant in preventing virus transmission would be easier if the country’s international entrances, be it through airports or seaports, were being carefully monitored and restricted, as well as recording migrants and visitors properly.

Sumber: observerid.com