It is understandable for several people to think that Bali, the ‘melting pot’ region, to be highly susceptible towards the spread of COVID-19, given that the nature of the region as the most leading tourism destination in Indonesia. Nevertheless, Bali is also currently being recognized as a model by Indonesian authorities in overcoming the pandemic.
With a population of 4.2 million, Bali has reported only four virus-related deaths and 343 confirmed cases, with a fatality rate of 1.2%, which is far below the national average of 6.5%. According to the Bali Governor, Wayan Koster, the success had come with the assistance of approximately 1,500 traditional village committees with a lot of contribution from the majority of Hindu residents.
“At first, a lot of people were concerned that Bali would be badly affected by COVID-19, as it is the largest tourist destination in Indonesia,” Koster stated. “However, the facts show otherwise. Bali is thriving.”
It is predicted that the significant success of Bali might be able to bring tourists back to the region when international travel resumes. There is no exact date for when the island will be opened to the tourists, but Koster said that there is a strategy that will be implemented after Bali fully recovers from the outbreak. The island, along with Manado and Batam, will be the first three destinations that the government is planning to ease restrictions, according to the statement by Luhut Pandjaitan, the Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs and Investment.
According to Governor Koster, the officials helped by the influential village committees and Hindu beliefs ensured all residents stayed at home and restricted travel to prevent further infections after the first case of COVID-19 hit Bali in early March.
“The villages in Bali know who gets in or out and who has left the village for good,” stated Achmad Sukarsono, a senior analyst at Control Risks. “This system is excellent but can’t be duplicated anywhere else. It has assisted the local government to handle the outbreak.”
Unlike other provinces, Bali didn’t impose harder social distancing rules such as a restriction on mass gatherings and closing on public transport. However, it succeeded in locking down three villages after the first known cases involving returning migrant workers.
“The villages have a very strong influence on the community. People will abide by anything the ruler of the village said,” said Ngurah Wijaya, an adviser to the Bali Tourism Board. “This has enabled the government to impose its policies effectively.”
Moreover, the thriving of Bali’s fight in handling the outbreak is not limited to suppressing new cases or limiting the loss of lives. It is reported that the recovery rate from COVID-19 on the island is more than 66%, compared with the national average of 22%. There are an estimated three labs on the island that can test almost 500 specimens a day. This can significantly help in limiting the numbers of cases because it is much more effective than sending samples to cities outside the province, Koster stated.
Bali, which has a great reputation for its beaches, panoramic rice terrace fields, and magnificent temples, achieved a record of 6.2 million foreign tourists last year prior to the start of the pandemic Indonesia.
“Balinese also realized that tourism is the source of living. Therefore, we need to support each other in order to gain the trust and confidence from the tourists,” Wijaya said. “That’s what makes Bali different compared with the other regions.”
Source by Bloomberg
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