Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin questioned the quality of PCR (polymerase chain reaction) examination laboratories in Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates. This is as a result many travelers found to be positive for COVID-19 upon arrival in Indonesia, despite having negative PCR tests from their countries of origin.
The Minister of Health explained that anyone who wishes to come to Indonesia by air must be in possession of a negative (Covid-19) PCR test result. Upon arrival in Indonesia, they will be tested for Covid-19 again.
“Especially for air travel, even for countries with quite strict regulations for travel, we still ask for a PCR test. Despite this, upon arrival when we test, the positivity rate can still be very high,” said Minister of Health Sadikin in a meeting with Commission IX of the Indonesian House of Representatives on Monday (13/9/2021).
“The highest (numbers) are from Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, and the United Arab Emirates. So we don’t know whether the PCR results from there are of good quality from these three countries,” he continued.
Minister of Health Sadikin said that his party will immediately conduct bilateral cooperation with the Ministries of Health of the three countries to confirm which laboratories are qualified to be used for PCR examinations before traveling to Indonesia.
“We will confirm which labs we are allowed to accept, which are well-certified by the local authorities to ensure the quality of the PCR is good,” explained the Minister of Health.
“The same thing is done in countries like South Korea and China. If we wish to travel there, only certain labs in Indonesia may provide valid PCR tests, in order to maintain quality, so things like this don’t happen,” he continued.
In the data presented by the Minister of Health, the positivity rate of travelers from Saudi Arabia is 14.9% (out of 4,717 people, 702 tested positive for Covid-19). Travelers from Malaysia were next highest at 8.4% (out of 6,961 people, 582 tested positive for Covid-19) and the United Arab Emirates came in at 4.1% (out of 3,504 people, 143 tested positive for Covid-19).
The following are the 10 countries with the highest percentage of positive results for Covid-19 for arriving air travelers:
Saudi Arabia: 14.9%
United Arab Emirates: 4.1%
South Korea: 2.1%
United States: 1.0%