Indonesian Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin confirmed on Monday at least 10 people have tested positive for a new variant of Covid-19 which was first detected in India.
The news came two days after the government banned foreign visitors from India for coronavirus fears.
“This variant of the virus has entered Indonesia with at least 10 people confirmed to have it,” Budi said in a news conference at the State Palace in Central Jakarta.
The variant — formally known as B.1.617 — is blamed for a dramatic surge in newly cases in India where more than 340,000 new cases were reported in a single day at its peak.
It was first detected in October last year. According to the coronavirus global data sharing organization GISAID, the variant has spread in more than 20 countries.
Budi said that of the 10 infected persons, six have contracted the variant in foreign countries but he didn’t go into details.
The remaining four cases were locally transmitted in Sumatra, West Java and South Kalimantan, he added.
The government earlier imposed travel ban on travel from India upon reports that 12 of 129 passengers on a chartered plane arriving from the country have tested positive for Covid-19.
The plane carried 116 Indian citizens, an American and 12 Indonesians, but the nationalities of the infected persons were not disclosed.
Budi said at the time health authorities used whole genome sequencing to determine the variant of the virus infecting those 12 passengers.
The entry ban applies to all foreign visitors who have travel history to India in the last 14 days.
Indonesian returnees are directed to go through one of seven main entry gates including Soekarno-Hatta Airport in Tangerang, Juanda Airport in Surabaya, Kualanamu Airport in Medan, Sam Ratulangi Airport in Manado, Batam Centre Port on Batam Island, Sri Bintan Pura Port in Tanjung Pinang and Dumai Port.
“Indonesian citizens returning from India must spend 14 days in quarantine,” Budi said.