Widodo urges stay home after omicron confirmed in Indonesia

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People wearing face masks as a precaution against the new coronavirus outbreak, walk along a pedestrian crossing in the main business district in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. The Indonesian government on Thursday announced that the country has detected its first case of omicron variant on Wednesday evening. (AP Photo/Tatan Syuflana)

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — Indonesian President Joko Widodo urged people and government officials to refrain from traveling abroad after the country detected its first case of the omicron variant of the coronavirus in a cleaning worker at a hospital in Jakarta.

The patient has no symptoms and is being quarantined at the Athlete’s Village emergency hospital, where the person worked. The government created the facility in March 2020 to treat COVID-19 patients and as a quarantine venue for Indonesians returning from abroad.

Indonesia’s Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said the infection was confirmed on Wednesday, and he urged people to continue following recommended protocols, including wearing masks and maintaining physical distance.

He also called for increased testing and to accelerate the country’s vaccination program.

Later Thursday, President Joko Widodo at a news conference said, “I ask people and state officials to refrain from traveling abroad until the situation subsides.”

Indonesia, as of Wednesday, had recorded more than 4.2 million COVID-19 cases and more than 143,000 deaths. During the peak of the last surge in July, it hit 56,757 cases per day as hospitals became overwhelmed by sick patients and ran out of beds and oxygen supplies.

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