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Image: Dewa Made Indra at the regular video press conference. Credit: Youtube.

From the latest stats, the biggest risk in the spread of Covid-19 on the island of Bali is the flow of returning Indonesian Migrant Workers (PMI), while from the 92 positive cases, as of Tuesday evening (4/14), only 10 people were infected by local transmission.

According to the Head of the Bali COVID-19 Task Force, Dewa Made Indra with this level of local transmission, the implementation of a total lockdown is still inappropriate.

“Should we close Bali for all if the local transmissions only amount to 10 people? The risk is too great,” said Dewa Indra in Denpasar, Wednesday afternoon (15/4).

According to him, local transmission rates can continue to be suppressed if everyone on the island continues using masks, washing their hands, keeping a distance and reducing activities outside the home.

Right now, even when there is an ongoing increase in numbers, it is mostly coming from PMI. He said that it was a legitimate point some people have expressed that it may have been better for Bali to lock down earlier when there were only a few local transmission cases. But it is not that simple.

“As a logic, that’s fine. However, we have to compare the risks faced with the costs a decision like that incurs. The risk until now is 10 people contracting the virus within the community, but if you apply the lock down, 4.2 million Balinese will be affected by it,” he explained.

With a lock down situation, continued Dewa Indra, restrictions on activities are enforced and the community, including those who rely on daily income, would not be able to work.

That means, they will be affected very seriously with a lock down. The government would indeed be obliged to provide at least food or food assistance.

But keep in mind, life is not just a basic food business. “The proposal is good but the timing is not right, because the cost we will pay is too great. Not only economic costs, but also it will cause food distribution problems, social problems and problems with the economy,” said Dewa Indra, who is also the secretary of the Bali provincial government.

When examined, Dewa Indra said, the policy of handling COVID-19 in Bali actually follows the direction of the national policies and the level of risk development. That is, policies flow following the needs on the ground.

However, it is not impossible that Bali will go there if there is an escalation of positive cases. When the time comes, the Bali provincial government is said to be ready.

The hope is to keep the local transmissions suppressed. In regard to the biggest source of risk, namely the PMI return flow, a monitoring and tightened inspection strategy has been instated at the entrances to the island.

Ngurah Rai Airport, for example, is on guard 24 hours. Rapid tests are no longer focused solely on international arrivals, but also on domestic arrivals.

Then at Gilimanuk Harbor, every migrant from an infected area in Java was also subjected to a rapid test in addition to a body temperature check and a travel history interview. If the results are positive, then they are immediately sent back.

(There were two more local transmission cases announced last night by the Covid-19 task force, bringing the total to 12 people. Ed)