Indonesia Responds to COVID-19's Omicron Variant: Inbound Travels Tightened

Responding to the Omicron variant emergence, Indonesian government has tighten inbound policy. Travel bans and longer quarantines are to be expected.

Nusantara Pol - Indonesia responds to the spread of the new Omicron Variant (B. which has been detected in 13 countries. The new variant has been designated by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a variant of concern. Thus, Indonesian government has decided to tighten the provisions for the arrival of travelers from abroad.

This was conveyed by the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, in a press statement delivered virtually, Sunday (11/28/2021), as quoted from Cabinet Secretariat website.

Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan (top left). (Photo: Setkab)
Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan (top left). (Photo: Setkab)

“Until today, 13 countries have announced that they have detected/confirmed probable cases of this Omicron variant in their countries, starting from South Africa and Botswana. This Omicron variant has been found in Germany, Belgium, England, Israel, Australia and Hong Kong," said Luhut.

Luhut added that there is a possibility this variant has spread to more countries.

Indonesian government has decided to ban entry for foreigners who have a travel history for the last 14 days to eleven countries, namely:

  • South Africa
  • Botswana
  • Namibia
  • Zimbabwe
  • Lesotho
  • Mozambique
  • Eswatini
  • Malawi
  • Angola
  • Zambia
  • Hong Kong

"The list of these countries can increase or decrease based on periodic evaluations carried out by the government," said Luhut.

Indonesian citizens who have a travel history from these 11 countries are allowed to enter Indonesia and will be quarantined for 14 days.

Meanwhile, Indonesian citizens and foreign nationals who come from countries other than those listed will be quarantined for 7 days.

"It will be implemented starting November 29, 2021 at 00.01," explain Luhut.

Luhut also stated that Indonesian government, through the Ministry of Health, will also increase the implementation of genome sequencing, especially for positive cases with a history of travel from abroad.

“The public does not need to panic in responding to this Omicron Variant. The government has taken steps to tighten arrivals from abroad and will increase genome sequencing activities to detect this Omicron Variant," he said.

Luhut emphasized that the government policy is taken after receiving input from epidemiologists who from time to time become government partners in making decisions regarding the handling of COVID-19 in the country.

“The government has taken these steps to tighten borders and arrivals from abroad as a precautionary measure to prevent/inhibit this Omicron variant from entering Indonesia. These policies can be re-evaluated when our understanding of the Omicron Variant can be better through ongoing studies," he said.

Closing his press statement, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs reminded all parties to remain disciplined in implementing health protocols, supported by the implementation of PeduliLindung tracing apps.

"Health protocol discipline, which has recently decreased compared to the previous months, we ask once again that we all remind each other that the use of masks, washing hands, maintaining distance, and also vaccinations must be strictly adhered to," concluded Luhut.

Minister of Health, Budi Gunadi Sadikin asked the public not to panic following the new variant of the corona virus B.1.1.529 or Omicron which was first discovered in South Africa.

"So we don't need to panic too much, (or) rush to take policies that are not data-based," Budi said in a virtual press conference, Sunday (11/28/2021), as quoted from Kompas.

Budi assured the public that Indonesia and the world are now working fast in identifying any new variants of the corona virus that appear. Thus, if a new variant emerges, the government can immediately take action to anticipate it.

"We want to ensure that the lab's network capabilities are able to see its spread in the world, identify it quickly, and make us respond to policies quickly," Budi said.