The Indonesian Doctors Association (PB IDI) has issued a public advisory on December 6, 2023, urging people to reinforce health protocols due to a global rise in COVID-19 cases. This comes in the wake of a surge in cases across 104 countries, driven by variants EG.5, HK.3, and BA.2.86. As neighboring countries to Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia are among those affected.
Omicron Variant Surge in Singapore and Malaysia
In Singapore, 22,000 cases of the Omicron variants EG.5 and HK.3 have been reported, accounting for 70% of total COVID-19 cases from October to November. On the other hand, the emerging Omicron variant BA.2.86 has shown lower infectivity but still contributes to the rising tally. Meanwhile, Malaysia reported a nearly fourfold increase in confirmed cases from the first week of October to November, with an initial count of 927 escalating rapidly.
High Mobility and Decreasing Antibody Levels
Prof. Dr. Erlina Burhan Sp.P(K), head of PB IDI's COVID-19 Task Force, attributed the spike in cases to high mobility due to year-end holidays and gatherings. Additionally, she mentioned that theory suggests antibody levels decrease after six to twelve months, which could be a contributing factor to the surge.
Global Increase in Cases
Other countries experiencing increases in COVID-19 cases with the EG.5 variant include the United States (24.8%), Canada (12%), China (10%), Japan (7%), and South Korea (6%). In Indonesia, GISAID data indicates that EG.5 variant cases rose in June, peaked in July with a 20% increase, and then declined in August. Over the last 28 days, a global spike in new COVID-19 variant cases has been reported, with 104 countries noting a rise in cases and 43 reporting deaths.
Public Advisory and Precautions
In light of the rising global cases, the Indonesian Doctors Association's advisory emphasizes the reinforcement of health protocols, particularly the wearing of masks. The situation underscores the importance of maintaining vigilance and adherence to protocols to curb the spread of the virus.