PH temporarily bans travelers from Indonesia

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 14) — President Rodrigo Duterte has approved the recommendation to include Indonesia in the list of countries covered by travel restrictions, Malacañang announced on Wednesday.

The restrictions will be applied to travelers coming from Indonesia and those with travel history there within the last 14 days before arriving in the Philippines. These travelers will be prohibited from entering the country beginning 12:01 a.m. of July 16 until 11:59 p.m. of July 31.

Passengers in transit from Indonesia and those who have been there within 14 days preceding arrival to the Philippines and will arrive before July 16 may still be allowed to enter, but they will have to undergo a 14-day quarantine at a facility notwithstanding a negative RT-PCR test result.

This was one of the recommendations of the Inter-Agency Task Force as the fellow Southeast Asian nation is currently battling a severe wave of COVID-19 infections that authorities say is driven by the more contagious Delta variant. The IATF on Wednesday also extended restrictions on travelers coming from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, UAE, and Oman until July 31.

The surge in Indonesia was due to holiday celebrations in May, Consul General Bryan Dexter Lao - Chargé d' Affaires, ad interim, in Indonesia - told CNN Philippines. He said the public had been instructed to follow minimum health standards such as physical distancing, wearing masks, and washing hands.

"Those measures apparently were not enough to control the rapid infection rate of [COVID-19]," Lao said in an interview on News Night.

The Indonesian government aims to vaccinate one million people per day, but only 36 million people out of a population of 273 million - or around 13% - have so far received their first dose. Lao said 15 million - or 5.4% of the population - have completed the two doses.

There are about 4,000 to 8,000 Filipinos in Indonesia, according to Lao. He added that around a hundred were booked for a July flight to the Philippines. He said he will present a report on the impact of the travel restrictions on Filipinos in Indonesia to the Philippine government to see if a shorter period for the ban can be arranged.

CNN Philippines correspondent Melissa Lopez contributed to this report.