Bali extended the quarantine period from three to seven days in order to prevent transmission of the newest variant of the SARS-covariant-2 virus. Researchers discovered the new variant, called omicron, in South Africa last week.
People returning to Bali from Hong Kong, South Africa, Malawi, Lesotho, Angola, Namibia, Botswana, Mozambique, Eswatini and Zimbabwe must quarantine for 14 days upon the arrival. These countries have already reported multiple cases of the omicron variant.
Early research on the omicron variant suggests that its mutations make it more transmissible. Researchers do not yet have enough information to know if it causes worse COVID-19 disease.
Authorities in Bali state that the omicron variant launched a new wave of COVID-19 infections in multiple countries. A spokesperson admitted that the extended quarantine will have negative impacts on Bali’s tourism, especially with the impending holiday travel season.
On November 28, Indonesia announced a ban on travelers from South Africa, Botswana, Eswatini, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Lesotho and Mozambique. The ban also applies to anyone who visited those countries in the past 14 days.
Authorities first reported the discovery of the omicron variant on November 26. Epidemiologists have cause for concern because the variant contains more than 30 mutations on its spike protein.
The COVID-19 vaccines target this spike protein. Changes in the protein may mean that the vaccines will not offer as much protection against this variant than the variants that came before it.