Indonesia suspends all arrivals from India over COVID-19 scare

Soekarno-Hatta International Airport’s Terminal 3 in November 2019. <em>Photo: Nadia Vetta Hamid for Coconuts Media</em>
Soekarno-Hatta International Airport’s Terminal 3 in November 2019. Photo: Nadia Vetta Hamid for Coconuts Media

The Indonesian government is imposing a ban on all arrivals from India over the latter’s deadly second COVID-19 wave and to prevent the transmission of dangerous new mutations of the coronavirus. The ban is set to come into force on Sunday, April 25.

India is struggling to contain the spread of COVID-19 due to a new double mutant coronavirus strain. The South Asian country reported the world’s highest single-day case spike today with over 330,000 new infections. As of this morning, India has reported more than 16.25 million cases and over 186,900 deaths.

“The government has decided to stop issuing visas to foreign nationals who have lived or visited the Indian territory in the past 14 days,” Coordinating Economic Affairs Minister Airlangga Hartarto, who also heads the COVID-19 Handling and Economic Recovery Committee, said in a press conference today.

Indonesia currently has a ban on international arrivals, but those with existing visas and stay permits are exempt.

A number of other territories, including Hong Kong, Singapore, and New Zealand, have also moved to temporarily ban arrivals from India. 

The ban does not apply to Indonesians who wish to return from India, as they are still permitted to enter the country with “tightened health protocols,” including a mandatory 14-day quarantine at designated hotels.

Before the ban was announced, at least 132 Indian nationals arrived in Indonesia this week, ringing alarm bells and sparking fresh fears for new outbreaks of COVID-19 in the country. The travelers, most of whom are reportedly women and children with temporary stay permits (KITAS) and permanent stay permits (KITAP), are currently undergoing a five-day quarantine in Jakarta, as mandated by Indonesia’s current COVID-19 regulations. 

Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin said today that 12 of the travelers, who booked a chartered flight from Chennai, have tested positive for COVID-19. Their samples are being subjected to genome sequencing tests to determine whether or not they carry the new strain.

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