An official from the Bali administration has urged the island’s residents to stop stigmatizing Indonesian migrant workers as “COVID-19 carriers,” following alleged reports of discriminatory practices among the public.
“There’s an impression among the people that they (migrant workers) are disease carriers. This is not good and not true,” regional secretary of the Bali administration, Dewa Made Indra, said during a press conference yesterday.
Thousands of Indonesian crew members and migrant workers have been arriving in Bali in recent weeks, including those who had worked on international cruise ships and now returning as some cruise lines halt their operations.
Based on official reports, all of them are subject to rapid tests upon arrival, though those have been known to produce false negatives.
Early on, those testing negative are expected to self-quarantine at their own homes while being monitored by officials from their desa adat, or traditional villages, but officials appear to have shifted their strategy very recently and are putting them in quarantine facilities administered by their home cities or regencies in Bali instead.
Indra said that the migrant workers have all followed the correct COVID-19 health protocol.
“They have undergone quarantine by the companies that employ them and they all carry ‘health certificates.’ But after a lab exam they were found to be COVID-19 positive. They didn’t deliberately bring [the disease] because they never knew where they were infected,” he explained.
As of yesterday afternoon, Bali recorded a total of 113 COVID-19 cases, a majority of whom have been identified as imported cases.
According to Indra, some market vendors have even gone so far as to refuse customers who are from villages with a confirmed COVID-19 patient.
“They are also our brothers and sisters, our children. They do pose some risks, but don’t give them the stigma of disease carriers. They have also undergone examination when arriving at the airport,” Indra said.