Bali officials state that they have not ruled out a possible closure of the tourist mecca should a major coronavirus epidemic arise on the island where a 53-year-old British woman on Wednesday became Indonesia’s first recorded death from the disease.
Authorities there have acknowledged that the island’s hospitals were not equipped for a massive epidemic and that they wanted their own testing facilities capable of rapidly diagnosing swab samples, rather than depending on sluggish findings from Jakarta.
On Thursday, the Indonesian Doctors Association urged the government to require more laboratories outside Jakarta to check for COVID-19, and to continue utilizing rapid testing methods, such as those carried out in Singapore, which can diagnose the virus within three hours.
The British woman died in Bali’s Sanglah Hospital eight days after she was diagnosed with symptoms, but only before Jakarta’s health officials told the Bali authorities that she had tested positive for the disease.
Bali Vice-Governor Cok Ace said he was worried about the lack of contact from central health authorities, “it might have a boomerang impact on us.”
Asked if an epidemic on the island could cause it to shut its boundaries, Mr. Ace said the decision was with the Indonesian government. “We need to track trends for this. Perhaps, since Bali is a foreign destination, “he said on Thursday.
But IB Agung Partha, Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board, said that the island could not rule out comparable steps to those taken in Italy. “So far, it’s still fine, but if it escalates to an epidemic of a growing amount of incidents, then… we all have to recognize it,” he stated.
Sourced from The Australian (Mar 13, 2020)