The government earlier this week banned foreigners who have been in South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini, Malawi, Angola, Zambia and Hong Kong within two weeks before departing for Indonesia.
The exceptions are Indonesians returning from these countries, who are subject to a 14 day-quarantine.
Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, who is leading the government’s Covid-19 response in Java and Bali, said the longer quarantine period was ordered by President Joko Widodo.
“This policy will be evaluated every now and then as we understand and continue to find out more information about this new variant,” Luhut said on Wednesday.
“We also urge the public not to travel abroad at the moment to keep the country’s pandemic situation under control.”
The government will also ban government officials from travelling overseas, unless they are assigned to important diplomatic missions.
Not much is known about the Omicron variant at the moment.
However, preliminary evidence suggests that it may be more transmissible than Delta, which is the most infectious Covid-19 variant to date.
Despite its alarming transmissibility, however, interim data suggest that Omicron symptoms may be less severe than Delta’s, according to Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin.
The new variant has been detected in at least 24 countries so far, including Australia, Britain, Germany, Israel, Italy, the United States, Belgium and Saudi Arabia. No deaths related to this variant have been reported so far.
Indonesia has not yet found any cases of the Omicron variant but the government has been stepping up measures to minimise the potential impact should it reach the country.
Budi earlier said that the health authorities were working on enhancing Covid-19 surveillance, including tracing, testing and whole genome sequencing. — The Jakarta Post/ANN