Jakarta. The Indonesian government will temporarily ban all foreign visitors from entering the country and oblige all its citizens returning from other countries to undergo a two-week quarantine to stop imported cases of COVID-19, officials said on Tuesday.
“The president has instructed that the existing policies [on COVID-19 outbreak] need to be strengthened, so it was decided to ban visits and transits by foreign citizens temporarily,” Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi said in Jakarta.
Government regulation on the restrictions will be issued by the Justice and Human Rights Ministry immediately, Retno said after a teleconference cabinet meeting led by President Joko Widodo.
Diplomatic passport holders and foreigners who hold stay and work permits in Indonesia will be exempt from the regulation, but health protocols continue to apply to them, Retno added.
The government reported 114 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday to bring the country’s total to 1,528 with 136 deaths.
Extra Caution on Malaysia
Prior to the meeting, the president ordered restrictions on returning Indonesian citizens and indicated that any citizen who had just returned from a foreign country would be suspected of having the virus and would be put into quarantine.
Extra caution is given to Malaysia, home to millions of Indonesian workers who might attempt to return home.
“We really need to pay attention to this. We’re talking about hundreds of thousands or even millions of Indonesian citizens who might return here soon. I received a report that around 3,000 Indonesian migrant workers return from Malaysia on a daily basis,” the president said.
The government will also closely monitor returning cruise ship crew members, who according to the president’s estimate number between 10,000 and 11,000.
All returning citizens will be tested for Covid-19 upon arrival, he said. Those who test positive for coronavirus will be placed in government-run isolation facilities, including one on Galang Island in the Riau Islands province, he said.
“Indonesian returnees who show no symptoms [of Covid-19] can go on to their hometowns, but they bear the status of Persons Under Investigation. They must strictly follow protocols by self-isolating once they arrive home,” the president said.
The latest directives, including the ban on foreign visits, are necessary to prevent further spread of the disease due to imported cases, as the coronavirus pandemic has now affected 202 countries around the globe and the epicenter has moved from China to Europe, he said.
“Several countries that have managed to flatten the Covid-19 curve are now facing a new wave of infections. China, South Korea, and Singapore must now deal with many imported cases,” the president said.
With restrictions on travel and public gatherings already in place, the government would also restrict cross-border mobility to curb the imported cases, he said.
Originally published on www.jakartaglobe.id