Coronavirus has mutated into a more dangerous version of the killer disease, leading scientists have warned, amid mounting fears of a second wave.
The novel strain of coronavirus has been identified by researchers in Indonesia, which has prompted one expert to fear positive cases could climb to half a million in the area by the end of the year.
Scientists at the Eijkman Institute for Molecular Biology have found an infectious but milder D614G mutation of the virus. The new strain of the virus was identified in genome sequencing data from specimens and has additionally been discovered in tests conducted in nearby Singapore and Malaysia.
Syahrizal Syarif, an epidemiologist with the University of Indonesia, has warned the prevailing level of infections is out of control and said current modelling suggests positive cases could climb to 500,000, come the end of December.
Mr Syarif said that the situation was grave and that local transmission was currently out of control. The leading epidemiologist also feared the current figures could be much higher if the capacity for testing was increased.
Indonesia has written more than 172,000 positive cases of COVID 19 since the start of the pandemic, now modelling suggests this could almost treble in the next four months.
Signs of a second wave of coronavirus emerged after the Indonesian capital Jakarta saw a record daily increase of more than 1,000 cases.
Across the country, there were also 2,858 new infections, including 82 deaths. The daily figure was just below the previous high, set a day earlier when 3,308 people tested positive.
Dwi Oktavia, an official at the Jakarta health agency, called on people to stay at home and wear a face mask when they go out in order to stem the outbreak.
He said there needs to be an awareness and a concerted effort, be it from the Government or the people, in addressing the growing number of cases.
The surge in the number of cases across Asia comes as Europe is on the verge of a second wave.
The World Health Organisation has warned the continent is entering a critical moment.
France reported 7,379 new confirmed cases, the most since lockdown, in what the health ministry described as an exponential surge. But a further 5,453 new cases were reported in the country, with the number of patients being admitted into intensive care rising from 387 to 400.