"No concrete evidence is, so far, available that the variant B117 is deadlier than any other variants," Chief of LIPI's Applied Genetic Engineering and Design Protein Laboratory Wien Kusharyoto stated here on Tuesday.
A study conducted in the United Kingdom indicated that the new variant is 56 percent easier to spread than any other variants.
"Through experiments at laboratories, researchers are attempting to ensure whether the variant is really easier to infect cell, thereby making it easier to spread," he explained.
Without sequencing the whole genome, it is not known whether the new variant has entered Indonesia, he stated.
If the new variant has not appeared in Indonesia, then one of the ways to prevent it from entering the country will be to tighten or restrict the entry of foreign nationals, especially those from countries where the new variant was discovered.
"We also need to step up discipline in following health protocols," he stated.
Indonesia has decided to temporarily close its borders from January 1, 2021, to prevent the entry of foreign nationals in view of the spread of a new coronavirus strain in some parts of the world.
"(We are) temporarily closing Indonesian borders, from January 1 to 14 of 2021 for foreign nationals from all countries," Foreign Affairs Minister Retno Marsudi stated at an online media conference on Monday.
However, high-ranking foreign officials and representatives, constituting ministers or above, from foreign countries will be excluded from the regulation on account of the stringent health protocols applicable during official visits.
The new variant, first identified in the UK in mid-December, has a 70-percent transmissible rate. The variant is reportedly spreading rapidly to the rest of the globe, including to Canada and Sweden.
Consequently, several countries have tightened their border restrictions to temporarily ban or screen passengers coming from the UK.
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