Jakarta – Indonesia on Monday extended the closure of its borders to foreigners for another two weeks until Feb. 22 over coronavirus fears, a day after its drug monitoring agency approved the emergency use of China's CoronaVac vaccine for the elderly.
"Principally, all foreigners are still barred from entering Indonesia," Wiku Adisasmito, spokesman for the national COVID-19 task force told a press conference.
Exceptions, however, will be granted for long-term residents, those from countries who have travel corridor arrangements with Indonesia and those who get special permission from Indonesian ministries or institutions, but by still applying health protocols, including a five-day quarantine.
Visiting government officials from the level of minister and above traveling with official or diplomatic visas, as well as chiefs of the foreign missions in Indonesia and their families, are excluded from quarantine, according to Wiku.
In December, the government barred all foreign visitors, except for ministerial-level government officials and long-term residents, from entering the country, as it tries to keep out seemingly more transmissible variants of the coronavirus.
In the Monday press conference, Coordinating Minister for the Economy Airlangga Hartarto also said that during the Chinese Lunar New Year and weekend holiday from Friday to Sunday, company employees, civil servants, soldiers and police will be banned from traveling out of town.
Stricter restrictions on people's movements and activities on the densely populated islands of Java and Bali have been imposed since last month as the curve of confirmed cases of new coronavirus in the country has shown no signs of flattening
New coronavirus patients have been crowding hospitals in the country, particularly on Java and Bali, prompting fears of a health care system collapse.
Under the stricter rules, the capacity of restaurants and places of worship has been limited, while shopping malls have been subject to shorter operating hours.
Indonesia has set itself the massive task of vaccinating 181.5 million people, or roughly two-thirds of its population of 270 million, within a year.
On Sunday, the country's Drug and Food Agency authorized the emergency use of the CoronaVac vaccine made by Sinovac Biotech for the elderly after the clinical trials for the elderly in Brazil and China showed it to be sufficiently safe.
Indonesia reported 8,242 new cases of the COVID-19 disease caused by the virus Monday, pushing the tally to 1,652,958, the highest in Southeast Asia, with the death toll standing at 31,763, according to the country's COVID-1