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Thousands of foreigners leave Indonesia amid COVID-19 crisis


Airport records show thousands of foreigners have left Indonesia in recent weeks

Indonesia now has the highest number of confirmed daily cases in Asia, as infections and deaths have risen over the past month and India’s widespread outbreak subsides. Infections reached their peak in mid-July, with the highest daily average recording more than 50,000 new cases per day. By mid-June, daily cases were running around 8,000.

Since the beginning of this month, about 19,000 foreign nationals have departed from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in the capital Jakarta.

Japan’s ambassador to Indonesia, Kenji Kanasugi, said the difficulty of obtaining vaccines for foreign nationals has prompted some Japanese nationals to get vaccinated in their country.

“In the midst of a pandemic situation that is very difficult for all of us, some Japanese citizens in Indonesia will temporarily return to Japan,” Kanasugi said on Instagram earlier this month.

Japanese and Chinese nationals made up the largest share of departures with 2,962 and 2,219 persons respectively, followed by 1,616 South Korean nationals. Airport data showed departures from 1,425 Americans as well as 842 French, 705 Russian, 700 British, 615 German and 546 Saudi Arabian nationals.

Initially, only representatives from foreign countries and international non-profit organizations were eligible for the government’s free vaccine program. The program was expanded last month to include people aged 60 and above, as well as teachers and education staff.

Nevertheless, television reports showed foreigners complaining about difficulties encountered in vaccination.

National COVID-19 Task Force spokesman Viku Adissimto said on Tuesday that limited vaccine supplies remain a challenge. He hoped that 45 million more doses to come in August would improve the situation.

Indonesia, home to 270 million people, had achieved at least 151.8 million vaccine doses by the end of July. Most of the doses — 126.5 million — are from the Chinese pharmaceutical company Sinovac.

The daily death toll in Indonesia crossed 2,000 for the first time on Tuesday, standing at 2,069. The health ministry reported 45,203 new confirmed cases as the health system struggles to cope, and even patients lucky enough to get hospital beds are not guaranteed oxygen.

Several countries have announced new restrictions or restrictions on travelers from Indonesia, including neighboring Singapore and the Philippines.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Taiwan and Hong Kong are among the countries and territories that have placed Indonesia on their travel ban lists.

Overall, Indonesia has had more than 3.2 million cases and 86,835 deaths. Those figures are widely believed to be a huge undercount due to low testing and poor tracing measures.

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