Jakarta: The Indonesian Government has decided to refuse entry to international travellers from 10 African countries and Hong Kong (China) as precautionary measures against the importation of new COVID-19 variant named Omicron (B.1.1.529).
The 10 African countries are South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Leshoto, Mozambique, Eswatini, Malawi, Angola, and Zambia.
“This policy will be valid soon in 24 hours,” Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment .Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan said in an online press conference Jakarta on Sunday.
The number of countries may decrease or increase based on the results of the government’s periodic evaluation, he said.
“We will look at it in 14 days’ time. But we will keep evaluating it everyday. Because of that, once again I should like to inform whether this new variant, as experts suggested, is as deadly as other variants or is more severe than Delta variant. This is a big question mark. So we will not hurry,” he said.
Luhut said the government had held a meeting in response to the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Although the new variant is spreading in Africa, 13 countries announced that they have detected confirmed and probable cases of Omicron variant in their countries.
The Omicron variant has been detected in Germany, Belgium, Britain, Israel, Australia, and Hong Kong.
“Looking at the distribution (of the new variant) in those countries, we cannot rule out the possibility that the Omicron variant has spread to many other countries,” he said.
Moreover, the new variant is claimed to have five mutations that may affect the transmission speed and the capability of virus to avoid antibody formed by vaccine or antibody produced naturally due to infection caused by the previous variant of COVID-19.