Jakarta: Indonesia has extended its COVID-19 quarantine period for international and Indonesian travelers arriving in the country from three days to one week to anticipate the importation of Omicron variant (B.1.1.529).
The Indonesian Government's decision to change its COVID-19 quarantine period for international travelers was disclosed by Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan here Sunday.
The foreign nationals who had ever traveled to South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini, Malawi, Angola, Zambia, and Hong Kong (China) within the past 14 days will be denied entry, he added.
The number of countries affected by Indonesia's temporary entry ban would periodically be evaluated, said Pandjaitan, who is also deputy head of the National Economic and COVID-19 Recovery Committee (KPC-PEN).
For Indonesians who return home from abroad but have ever traveled to the countries receiving the temporary entry ban, they will be quarantined for 14 days, he said.
The new COVID-19 quarantine period for foreign nationals and Indonesian citizens arriving in Indonesia from abroad would have been made effective at one minute after midnight on November 29, 2021, he said.
The Health Ministry would also boost genomic sequencing of COVID-19 to detect the Omicron variant, he said.
Meanwhile, Spokesperson for COVID-19 Vaccination at the ministry Siti Nadia Tarmizi said earlier that the Indonesian Government has continued to monitor the new virus variant through the whole genome sequencing (WGS) analysis.
"Until now, the new variant has not been detected in Indonesia," she remarked.
According to the World Health Organization's (WHO's) report, she noted that the Omicron variant can quickly transmit, easily cause COVID-19 reinfection, and reduce vaccine efficacy.
Lung specialist at the Faculty of Medicine of University of Indonesia, Tjandra Yoga Aditama, suggested that the quarantine period for international travelers need to be extended to one or two weeks after they arrive in Indonesia.
"In the circular letter of the Director General of Immigration, there are exceptions for foreigners who will attend G20 meetings. However, they must undergo strict examinations and an adequate quarantine period," he said.
He noted that WHO had classified the Omicron variant into the Variant of Concern (VOC) on November 26, 2021. Meanwhile, the virus was confirmed for the first time on November 9, 2021.