Indonesia to restrict foreign travelers from India over COVID-19 variant

Indonesia will stop issuing visas for foreigners who have been in India in the past 14 days to prevent the spread of different coronavirus strains, a government minister said on Friday.

India is facing a health crisis, including the impact of a "double mutant" strain of COVID-19, with the country posting the world's highest single-day increase in cases on Friday, April 23, for a second day, surpassing 330,000 infections.

"Based on these observations, the government has decided to stop issuing visas for foreigners who have lived or visited India in the past 14 days," chief economic minister Airlangga Hartarto said on Friday.

The curbs follow the arrival in Indonesia of a chartered flight from Chennai carrying 129 people, 12 of which had tested positive for COVID-19. Samples had been taken for genomic sequencing, said health minister, Budi Gunadi Sadikin.

"Lots of people still enter Indonesia," he said. "We must be careful of those entering from South Asian countries."

Indonesians arriving from India will be allowed to enter, however, but must follow stricter health protocols and quarantine.

Indonesia, the world's fourth-most populous nation, has among the worst COVID-19 epidemics in Asia, with over 1.62 million cases and 44,000 deaths as of Thursday. – Rappler.com