Monday, December 4, 2023

Indonesia Bans Travelers From Southern African Countries Over Omicron Concerns

Fana Suparman
November 28, 2021 | 7:02 pm
International travelers arrive at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on May 17, 2021. (B1 Photo/Emral)
International travelers arrive at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on May 17, 2021. (B1 Photo/Emral)

Jakarta. Indonesia has decided to ban travelers from eight African countries, including South Africa, to prevent the spread of the new Covid-19 B.1.1.529 variant or the Omicron variant in the Southeast Asian country.

According to a circular from the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, signed by Widodo Eka Tjahjana, the interim director-general of immigration at the ministry, on Saturday, travelers from  South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini, and Nigeria are not allowed to enter Indonesia. 

The immigration office has also temporarily suspended visas for South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Mozambique, Eswatini, and Nigeria.

The rules for restricting the entry of foreigners and the temporary suspension of visas for the countries will come into effect on Monday.


"In response to the emergence of a new variant of Covid-19 B.1.1.529 from outside the territory of Indonesia, the Directorate General of Immigration has issued regulations restricting international travelers who will enter Indonesian territory," Arya Pradhana Anggakara, the immigration's head of public relations and general affairs, said in a statement on Sunday. 

"If there are foreigners who have visited these countries within the past 14 days, they will be immediately refused entry to Indonesia at the immigration checkpoints," Arya said. 

Indonesia followed several countries that have chosen to restrict or ban travel to and from southern Africa. The United Kingdom, the United States, and the European Union have also announced restrictions.

Previously, the B.1.1.529 was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) from South Africa on November 24, 2021. The variant has spread rapidly to several countries, Botswana, Belgium, Hong Kong, and Israel.

In a statement on Friday, the WHO said that it had many mutations and early signs of elevated reinfection risk and has designated the new variant name "Omicron" and declared it to be "of concern." The WHO warned it would take weeks to assess the new variant's impact as scientists assessed its transmissibility. 

The WHO has urged countries against adopting hasty travel restrictions, advising a "risk-based and scientific approach." But, besides Indonesia, the UK, the US, and the EU, several other countries have announced restrictions, including Australia, India, Iran, Japan, and Brazil.

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