Bali’s Covid-19 Task Force has announced a slight increase in positive cases in Bali over the course of this week. Speaking to local news outlets the Covid-19 Task Force announced that in the last three days, since Tuesday 21st June, there as been over 100 confirmed new cases of Covid-19 in the Canggu area.
The local task force has been open about why they think there has been a surge in cases, the Head of Bali’s Provincial Health Office, I Nyoman Gede Anom, told local reporters that they believe ‘free’ foreigners are to blame for the increase in transmissions.
Speaking on Thursday 23rd June Anom said that there have been many foreigners who have been testing positive in the last week, especially in Canggu. He went on to explain that one of the reasons why so many foreigners were testing positive is because of their lack of discipline in wearing masks.
He said because other countries have scrapped mask mandates that foreigners feel ‘free’ and that ‘our people are disciplined to wear masks’ because they had to wear them in the past.
Anom did not touch on how the recent scrapping of the mask mandate in outdoor settings may have slowly begun to influence positive case numbers. The mask mandate has been scrapped in outdoor areas since 17th May 2022 and this has been the case for all people in Bali. He did not offer any other reasons for the rise in cases that could in fact be attributed to many other factors.
It is unlikely that one single factor has caused this week’s increases in caseloads. On the 17th of May Indonesia also scrapped the pre-arrival PCR test for vaccinated travelers meaning symptomless positive cases could be entering the country undetected. Domestic tourists have never had to test before travel and make up the majority of visitor to Bali since reopening in February.
As the tourism sector has continued to open up, thousands of people have headed back to work and the movement of people across the island has increased considerably too.
On the 8th of June 2022, the central government reduced Bali to Covid-19 restriction level one which enabled the retail sector to operate at 100% capacity again, which also may have influenced the number of positive cases. Bali has recently celebrated the auspicious Galungan and Kuningan festivals where families and communities gather to worship the triumph of dharma over adharma. All of these factors could have influenced the rise in localized cases.
Many argue that Anom’s pointing of the finger at tourists, without mention of other plausible reasons, could have a detrimental knock-on effect on the tourism sector. Though his comments will do little to deter visitors who are already on the island, his comments go somewhat against the open and welcoming environment the Bali tourism sector is working hard to offer visitors.
Anom’s statements are not to be ignored however, tourists, international residents, and locals are all required to follow the Covid-19 mandates even if fully vaccinated unless they are medically exempt. The mask mandate is still in place in an indoor public setting and on public transport.
He has urged the public to continue to adhere to the restrictions that remain in place to ensure that Bali continues to move out of the pandemic. In the present caseloads remain clinically under control. Anom and other Covid-19 Task Force leaders have urged the public to get their second and booster vaccines. They have asked that people wear masks if they are experiencing a cold or flu and to be extra cautious around the elderly and those who are living with Covid-19 comorbidities.
According to Bali’s Provincial Health Office on Thursday 23rd there were 56 new cases of Covid-19 in. Canggu, 18 of which were foreigners. On Wednesday there were 51 new cases in the Canggu area, 21 of which were foreigners.
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